Columbus finishes 2012 with a win.
It was cold. It was rainy. And it could have been a lot worse if not for Federico Higuain. The Argentinian playmaker's two goals paved the way for Columbus at home on Sunday afternoon, as the Crew downed Toronto in the last game of the season, 2-1. The win completed Columbus' three-game regular season sweep of Toronto.
The win brought the Crew's season point total to 52 (15-12-7), just one point out of the playoffs. Toronto finished dead last in MLS with only 23 points (5-21-8).
Head coach Robert Warzycha made a few changes to the Crew's starting lineup. Eric Gehrig started in center defense for the injured Chad Marshall. Tony Tchani started in the middle, while Ben Speas got his first ever MLS minutes with a start on the left wing in Columbus' 4-2-3-1 formation. Toronto lined up in a 4-4-2.
Higuain scored his first goal of the game only 17 minutes in. A long ball to Jairo Arrieta was not cleared properly by Toronto, and the ball squirted to Higuain near the top of the box. Higuain faked a shot with his right, cut the ball back to his left, and finished calmly into the bottom right corner past a diving Freddy Hall's hands.
However, only ten minutes later, Toronto equalized. A flick on header from Ryan Johnson near midfield played Andrew Wiedeman in on goal. Crew defender Eric Gehrig made a lunging attempt to stab the ball away from Wiedeman but was unsuccessful. Wiedeman dribbled into the box before passing the ball past Andy Gruenebaum straight into the left corner.
Federico Higuain had a busy afternoon. In the 62nd minute, he earned a penalty and also tucked it away to give Columbus the lead. A cross from Eddie Gaven found Arrieta in the box, who laid the ball off for Higuain. Higuain, once again, faked a shot with his right and cut the ball back to his left foot. As he wound up to shoot, Terry Dunfield pulled on Higuain's waist, drawing him to the ground. Referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot, where Higuain stepped up and blasted the ball into the left corner.
Higuain almost completed his hat trick in the 69th minute with a bending shot from the left-corner of the box that was parried out of bounds by Hall. Although the third goal would have been nice, it was not necessary on the night, as Higuain's brace was enough to secure a 2-1 win for Columbus, ending their season with a win but no playoffs.