Columbus Crew Takes Out the Chicago Fire With Convincing Win

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Crew's playoff fate is still very much up in the air, but they took another step closer with a 3-0 win against bitter rivals and playoff competitors, the Chicago Fire.

Columbus would get that early goal when Dominic Oduro would get free wide right of the goal after being freed by Jairo Arrieta. After the Fire defense collapsed on Arrieta, the pass gave Oduro the space to blast a far post shot that clipped Sean Johnson's fingertips and hit the side netting; putting the Crew off to the right start in the 15th minute.

That start would get better as the Fire would get an unlucky deflection on a driven Crew clearance forcing the Chicago to scramble. Jeff Larentowicz clipped the ball over his defense and gave Arrieta the chance to run onto it. Bakary Soumare rotated over to slow down Arrieta, but showed up late. He took down the Costa Rican as he had a clear path to goal and earned a red card. The Crew would play the remaining 71 minutes with a man advantage.

The Fire would pressure the Crew for nearly the rest of the half including Juan Luis Anongano ringing a shot off the crossbar, but the visitors would fail to break through.

Columbus would settle down in the second half and settle into long stretches of possession, but the Fire defense would hold it's shape, stymying the Crew attack.

The Crew would get their break when they would catch the Fire defense in transition. Without a chance to get nine men behind the ball, Tchani took a feed from Wil Trapp, dribbled into space and threaded a ball to Arrieta. Johnson came out to challenge, but took down Arrieta. The referee didn't hesitate to point to the spot.

Before the attempt, Arrieta plead his case to Higuain to take the spot kick, but the captain overruled. Higuain would bury the shot in the 70th minute, his sixth penalty goal of the year, a new Crew record. Higuain immediately ran over to celebrate with the joyous Arrieta.

The Crew nearly got number three nearly right after the restart. Anor slipped a cross from the far left touchline into the box. Higuain came bursting through, but his right footed clip would ring off the upright. His momentum carried him to the rebound, but his pass would miss Arrieta right in front of goal. Oduro would eventually rip a 20 yard shot that went just wide of the post.

After two good chances just minutes earlier the third would come. Tchani would again be the impetus. After taking a square ball from Arrieta, he split two defenders a perfect through ball. Bernardo Anor galloped onto the pass as Johnson ran to intercept, but Anor was able to put a low shot past the Fire goalkeeper for the Crew's third goal of the night in the 76th minute.

Columbus closed out the last 15 minutes and cruised to the shutout victory.

The win took their record to 11-14-5 an 38 points. The playoffs that looked so distant a few weeks ago are now in sight. The Crew remain in eighth place but are only two points behind the New England Revolution and fifth place. The loss bounced the Fire out of the fifth spot and only a point ahead of the Crew.

The road to the playoff is still difficult. The Crew have four games remaining, but all of the teams ahead of them have five. Three of the four opponents are currently in playoff position. Only Dallas, who they visit next week, is currently on the outside looking in. The Crew finish out the season hosting Kansas City on October 5th before playing two against New England in the final weeks of the season.

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