Gregg Berhalter has said he wants his Columbus Crew SC team to start fast. He got just that in his side's 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution.
What he didn't get was a good start.
The Black & Gold came out asleep and the Revolution took advantage through Lee Nguyen.
The attacking midfielder picked up the ball and ran through the middle of the field uncontested before firing a shot from outside the penalty area that beat goalkeeper Steve Clark for the early 1-0 advantage 35 seconds into the match.
The very early deficit woke Columbus up and Crew SC began to play its game.
Four minutes in and the Black & Gold pulled level thanks to a header from league-leading goal scorer Kei Kamara.
A cross from Hector Jimenez found an open Federico Higuain in the middle of the 18-yard box. Crew SC's No. 10 flicked a header towards goal, but it hit off the cross bar. Kamara jumped on the rebound, sending a diving header by Bobby Shuttleworth to tie the match.
The Black & Gold, who had not won a match all season after conceding the first goal, did not let up. After 13 minutes, Higuain forced Shuttleworth into a diving save. Kamara once again jumped on the rebound, but fired his shot into the side netting from a tight angle.
Nine minutes before halftime, the Revs nearly went ahead for the second time.
Midfielder Chris Tierney split two Crew SC defenders and delivered a low cross back through the Columbus penalty area. Scott Caldwell was on the spot for the shot, but his effort went right to Clark.
It was the Black & Gold who came out aggressive in the second half and almost took the lead within the opening minute.
Winger Justin Meram got on the end of an Higuain cross, but his attempt went narrowly over the New England crossbar.
There was some controversy both ways in the 50th minute, but it resulted in a 2-1 lead for Crew SC.
After getting the ball in the box, Meram's touch bounced up and hit the outstretched and moving hand of a Revolution defender. Referee Fotis Bazakos signaled no call, despite protests from the Columbus players.
Just seconds later, left back Waylon Francis sent a long cross to the back post that was brought down by Ethan Finlay. New England stopped playing, believing Finlay used his hand to control the ball, and Finlay found Kamara in front of goal for his second of the game and his league-leading and career-best 12th goal of the season.
The 9th assist of the season put Finlay back on top of the league in that department.
Jay Heaps could have instructed his Revolution team to live for another day after playing just three days prior, but New England continued to attack and created some good chances.
In the 60th minute, forward Teal Bunbury ran at the Crew SC defense and fired a hard shot, but Clark saved the attempt.
In the closing minutes of the match, the Revs worked the ball around the penalty area, but a scrambling Columbus defense kept the opponent from getting a good looking and held on for the 2-1 win, the first three points earned by the team in six matches.
The Black & Gold head out west to take on a Real Salt Lake side that was issued two red cards Wednesday night.
RSL was already shorthanded with national team call-ups, so Crew SC will look to capitalize and earn its first away win of the year Saturday night.