The Columbus Crew went into Saturday night's match with Toronto FC looking to avoid a season sweep against their rivals to the north. Ultimately, that was not in the cards as the Reds defeated the Black and Gold 3-2.
An entertaining first half began with early chances for both teams to open the scoring. The Crew earned an early corner after a dangerous cross just three minutes in, while Toronto forward Gilberto had his cross cleared by a Columbus defender.
One minute later, winger Ben Speas went inside on a nice turn and fire a shot from outside the 18-yard box, but his effort deflected wide of the goal.
In the 20th minute, Crew maestro Federico Higuain sprayed a ball wide for winger Ethan Finlay. Finlay dribbled into the box before cutting back and firing a low shot that was saved by Toronto goalkeeper Joe Bendik.
Three minutes later, the Reds' captain Michael Bradley found a wide open Dominic Oduro on the wing. The former Crew player raced into the box, but his shot never bothered goalkeeper Steve Clark, as it sailed over the crossbar.
The action quickly shifted to the opposite end of the pitch, where Finlay sent a dangerous cross into the box looking for the 6'7" forward Adam Bedell. Bedell got to the ball, but his header only found the outside of the net.
A rare mistake from Columbus central midfielder Wil Trapp almost gave Toronto the lead in the 36th minute. Trapp was caught in possession in his own half, by Luke Moore and the forward dribbled towards the box and fired a shot, that was deflected away by defender Michael Parkhurst.
The Reds were not to be denied in the 43rd minute when Moore transitioned from shooter to provider. The forward found his strike partner in the box and Gilberto went directly to goal, beating Clark for the 1-0 lead.
The Black and Gold almost responded immediately one minute later when Higuain attempted a patented chip, but it went just wide of Bendik's goal.
In first half stoppage time, Columbus earned the chance they had been waiting for. After two consecutive corner kicks, a Tony Tchani header was stopped by the hand of defender Justin Morrow, giving Columbus a penalty kick.
On the ensuing spot kick, Higuain stepped up and put the ball in the back of the net to tie the game at halftime break.
The second half started with the same pace as the first. Just three minutes in, right back Eric Gehrig got down the outside of the field and found Speas at the top of the box. The shot from the winger went harmlessly over the Toronto goal.
In the 56th minute, TFC midfielder Jonathan Osorio was allowed to turn and fire a shot from the top of the 18-yard box forcing a save from Clark and denying Osorio the go-ahead goal.
Three minutes later, Toronto took the lead for the second time. A through ball found Moore open in the box, but Clark came out to make the save. The rebound fell to Osorio who calmly put the ball in the back of the open net..
In the 82nd minute, second half substitute Justin Meram brought the Crew level with a wild goal. The winger curled a ball into the box that appeared to be cross, but went by forward Aaron Schoenfeld and Bendik and found the back of the net.
It didn't take the Reds long to take the lead for the third and final time. Just two minutes after the Meram strike, Moore powerfully headed home a corner to push the match to 3-2. The goal was the first of the year directly from a corner kick for Toronto on their sixth attempt of the evening.
The defeat ends a three match unbeaten run that saw the Crew climb into the final playoff spot in a tight Eastern Conference. The match was the first of a three game home stand for Columbus, who welcome the LA Galaxy to town next Saturday.