Meram is the man on the spot. (Fahmi/Massive Report)
It wasn't technically a must win game for the Crew, but they really needed three points against the Western Conference cellar dwellers. It would take nearly all game and a frustrating showing from the offense, but they would pull out a result to push back into playoff position.
The Crew started the game slowly, unlike a team that is fighting for their postseason lives. Chivas USA was able to get off several clear shots at the goal, most dangerous was Nick LaBrocca's chance after he beat the trap in the 14th minute.
Columbus would have a goal waved off in the 20th minute as Josh Williams picked up a rebound from 25 yards out and unleashed a shot. Dan Kennedy was up to the task, but parried away a rebound. Arrieta cleaned up the loose ball, but got a head start.
The Black and Gold would get another great chance in 32nd minute. A Higuain free kick would find the head of Julius James. The header would kiss off the left upright. Williams, tracking down the ball, dropped a pass to Duka. The close angle shot would go wide.
After a fast start, Chivas would be content to pick their spots to launch counterattacks as the half wore on.
With Chivas yielding the ball, the Crew would close out the half with sustained pressure, but little to show for it. The best chance coming when Arrieta found Higuain at the top of the box, but he sliced the one time shot well wide.
The story would be more of the same in the 2nd half. The Crew again found a lot of the ball, but struggled to turn them into chances. Tripped up by a stout defense, many of the Black and Gold's chances barely threatened Kennedy.
Columbus would throw numbers forward as the game went on. Robert Warzycha would lift Dilly Duka and Milovan Mirosevic by the midway point of the half and
The breakthrough would come late, 89th minute late, as Tony Tchani saw a cutting Higuain and played a perfectly weighted ball that the Argentine crossed to a sliding Arrieta. Kennedy pulled out another acrobatic save him with a fine save.
Arrieta refused to give up on the play. As he lay nearly on his back, he somehow hopped to nudge his rebound back. Justin Meram had crept into the box and cleanly finished up the scraps to give the Crew the lead they desperately needed.
The Crew would close out the game with little problem with Andy Gruenebaum earning his 8th shutout of the year.
The win moves the Crew to 13-10-6 and 45 points on the year. They now temporarily occupy the 5th and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with D.C. United to play Philadelphia tomorrow evening. A win or a tie by D.C. would put the Crew back out of the playoffs.
Columbus gets back to business on Saturday as they head to Chicago to take on the red hot Fire. The Fire are currently on a strong run of form and are tough to beat at home, making tonight's result all the more important.