Columbus Crew SC close out the preseason in joyful fashion with a convincing 4-1 over USL side OKC Energy FC in the consolation game of the IMG Suncoast Pro Classic. After losing in penalty kicks to the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday night, the Black and Gold could do no better than finish third in the preseason tournament and did so with a dominating performance.
As they often do, Crew SC controlled the game from the opening whistle. Both winger Ethan Finlay and outside back Hector Jimenez had chances within the opening 10 minutes of the match. Finlay dribbled his way into the OKC box and cut back before firing a shot, but it was saved by the Energy's goalkeeper. Less than a minute later Jimenez fired a half volley that forced another reaction save from the netminder.
After 32 minutes, Columbus finally opened the scoring through new addition Kristinn Steindorsson. The winger was in the right place at the right time, as Federico Higuain's shot was saved and fell to him, but he did well to blast it home and give Crew SC the 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Finlay doubled the lead. After forward Kei Kamara flicked a ball into his path, Finlay stayed calm and hit a shot into the back corner for the 2-0 advantage for the Black and Gold.
There were no changes at the half as head coach Gregg Berhalter wanted to give his starters plenty of playing time ahead of their MLS season opener, scheduled for next Saturday.
Crew SC continued to control the run of play to start the second half and had a couple of chances, but could not increase the advantage. In the 64th minute, though, the Black and Gold again benefitted from rebound. This time, it was Steindorsson's shot that was saved, but the ball came out to Higuain and the maestro setup his shot before executing a beautiful finish.
OKC was not to be denied though and in the 78th minute they spoiled goalkeeper Steve Clark's shutout. After Tony Tchani got caught in possession in his own defensive third, the Energy's Daniel Clark won the ball and curled a shot into the far corner from outside the box to cut the lead to 3-1.
Crew SC wasn't content with a two goal lead though, as they rebuilt their three goal advantage before the conclusion of the match. After Ethan Finlay's shot was saved, Kamara collected the long rebound and chipped a shot under the crossbar to close out the 4-1 win.
Columbus now prepares for the start of league play at the Houston Dynamo, which is scheduled to kickoff Saturday March 7 at 8:30 pm ET.
Stayed dialed in to Massive Report for your updates throughout the week in the build up to the start of Crew SC's 20th season.