Despite hearing the news in pregame of the club's best defender, Giancarlo Gonzalez, was transferring to Palermo of the Italian Series A, the Columbus Crew continued their momentum of last week's victory with a 3-0 shutout win over the Houston Dynamo. It marked their first shutout since June 29, a 0-0 tied with FC Dallas.
Unlike the previous game's back-and-forth style, the start of this game gave no indication of the fireworks on the horizon.
The best chance of the early period didn't come until the 18th minute when Will Bruin took a Wil Trapp giveaway towards the Crew goal. Goalkeeper Steve Clark hurried out, making himself big and taking the shot off his face to preserve the 0-0 score line.
Columbus came back at the Dynamo in the 23rd minute with a run from winger Ethan Finlay. Federico Higuain found Finlay wide and his service gave forward Adam Bedell the opportunity to head the ball back across the goal. Higuain crashed the net, but couldn't keep his effort under the crossbar.
Ten minutes before the halftime break, Justin Meram capitalized on a mistake by the Houston back line. Center back David Horst had issues controlling a pass from Corey Ashe and Meram jumped on the loose ball, taking a touch around the defender and dispatching it in the net for a 1-0 lead.
After allowing a goal to the LA Galaxy shortly after halftime - something the team focused on in training this week - the Black and Gold played better in the opening period of the second half.
As 60 minutes ticked off the clock and forward Aaron Schoenfeld prepared to check in to the match, Bedell left his mark with his final touch of the game. Meram delivered a ball into the 6'7" striker who was able to redirect it by goalkeeper Tally Hall for the 2-0 lead. This advantage marked the first time since the opening two games of the season the Crew have led 2-0 in back-to-back matches.
Schoenfeld didn't take long to show Bedell isn't the only big guy who can score on this roster. After just four minutes on the pitch, the 6'4" forward headed home a cross from left back Waylon Francis for his first goal of the year in MLS. Francis was setup by a wide through ball from Finlay, who was credited with a secondary assist.
The Dynamo appeared destined to get one back in the 82nd minute when winger Brad Davis carried a ball into the Columbus penalty area. Center back Tyson Wahl, starting in place of Gonzalez, raced from out wide and made a last-ditch tackle to prevent the shot.
After a second straight one goal, one assist performance, Meram was subbed out in the 88th minute to a standing ovation. On came new Crew signing, 19-year old Romain Gall for his professional debut. The youngster excited the crowd of 17,551 with his first couple of touches, winning the ball and shaking a few defenders before playing the ball in behind the defense for Schoenfeld.
The win means Columbus head out on the road for the first time in three weeks carrying momentum. They next take to the pitch on Saturday night when they travel to take on the Montreal Impact in what will be another Eastern Conference battle.