A new era brought renewed excitement to the Columbus Crew and as demonstrated Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. The Nordecke filled as the players warmed up and the tifo presentation in the north and south ends reflected this anticipation.
The passion from the stands translated on to the pitch, as both teams looked to move the ball quickly and attack early.
The Union found space in behind the Crew back line with Vincent Nogueira, Sebastien Le Toux, and Jack McInerney unable to find more than the gloves of goalkeeper Steve Clark.
Columbus began to create opportunities and Jario Arrieta found himself on the end of a ball over the top from Federico Higuain. Arrieta controlled the ball with his chest but was unable to get a shot off as Philadelphia goalkeeper Zac MacMath came off his line to stuff the chance.
Just four minutes later the Crew got off the mark. Higuain's corner kick delivery found the head of a wide open Bernardo Anor in the box that beat MacMath for a 1-0 lead.
Columbus continued to pressure and earned four corners over a five minute span, but the Black and Gold were unable to capitalize.
There was a furious pace to the game with both teams looking to counter attack quickly after winning possession.
In first half stoppage time, the Crew doubled their lead through Anor who took a very different route for his second goal of the night. The midfielder received a short pass near midfield from Wil Trapp and attacked the Philadelphia defense. When no one closed him down, Anor took a long range effort that beat MacMath and sent the 17,517 in attendance into a first half frenzy.
The second half opened positively for Columbus as Anor received a cross and looked for his hat trick with a one-time effort. His touch failed him though as the ball went wide and the Crew maintained their two goal lead.
As the half wore on, the Union began to push numbers forward looking for their opening goal. Leonardo Fernandes entered in the 55th minute, who started last week in place of a sick Brain Caroll, and helped put the Black and Gold under pressure.
It was the substitute that would provide Philadelphia with what they desired. Sebastien Le Toux found space out wide with the ball and delivered a cross that was redirected by Fernandes into the net to cut the deficit in half.
As the Union continued to look for the equalizer, creating several chances that nearly resulted in a goal, Head Coach Gregg Berhalter brought in Dominic Oduro for Arrieta to give the team a different presence up top.
Oduro caused a few headaches for the Philadelphia back line, using his speed to start the counter attack. The Crew narrowly missed going up by two in the closing stages, as Oduro delivered a teasing ball in behind the defense. Hector Jimenez's sliding effort came up just short of making contact and redirecting the ball into the net.
After three minutes of stoppage time, referee Ted Unkel pointed to the center circle to signal the end of the match and give the Crew their first ever 2-0 start to a season.