The playoffs are slipping away from the Crew's grasp.
While a 2-1 away loss to the Chicago Fire keeps Columbus in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, they have now played one more game than the two teams directly above them in the standings. Meanwhile, the Fire's win keeps them in sole possession of second place in the East.
Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Emilio Renteria started on the right wing for Columbus, replacing Dilly Duka who was in New Jersey for personal reasons.
Chicago had the first good opportunity of the match just three minutes in. Midfielder Alex let loose a left-footed shot from the right corner of the box, but the ball skimmed off the crossbar.
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A terrible and unusual goalkeeping error gave Columbus the lead in the 15th minute. Fire keeper Sean Johnson received a pass near the endline from Austin Berry. His return pass to Berry was read by Jairo Arrieta, who intercepted the ball, dribbled past a diving Johnson's hands, and finished well, placing the ball into the corner of the near post with his left foot.
Columbus' lead did not last for long, thanks to a Dayton, Ohio, native. In the 23rd minute, Sherjill MacDonald held up a long ball, turned, and fed a through ball to Chris Rolfe. Rolfe, now in on goal, took one touch before slotting the ball past Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum with his left foot to tie the game.
Rolfe only waited three minutes to score once again. Patrick Nyarko dribbled down the field, keeping the ball from the Crew's defense before finding Rolfe at the top of the box. Rolfe took one touch and released a measured right-footed shot that bent straight into the top right corner of the goal to give the Fire the lead.
Eddie Gaven had a good chance to tie the game in the 56th minute, but his right-footed bending effort from outside the box was parried wide by Johnson.
The Fire should have scored their third in the 62 minute after a nice give-and-go between Macdonald and Rolfe. Macdonald flipped the ball across the box to Alvaro Fernandez as Gruenebaum came off his line, but Fernandez's header went just over the open goal.
The Crew's last chance to tie the game came in the 79th minute after Josh Williams got on the end of a Federico Higuain free kick. Williams blasted a volley from close range, but his shot was directly at Johnson, who pushed the ball out of bounds for a corner.
Columbus' recent scoring woes affected them once again, as their inability to score more than one goal helped Chicago pick up the 2-1 victory.