Crew SC were second best in every way Wednesday night as they lost 3-0 to a suddenly revitalized Philadelphia Union squad to extend their winless streak to four.
Gregg Berhalter heavily rotated his team that has played three games over the past week and now has another game coming on Saturday. Already missing Michael Parkhurst due to suspension, Berhalter sat league scoring leader Kei Kamara, Tony Tchani, and Tyson Wahl and brought in Aaron Schoenfeld, Kevan George, and Sergio Campbell.
From the start, the game quickly bogged down into a midfield battle. Crew SC could find little continuity and the Union weren't able to turn their sparks of possession into real chances.
The first big chance of the game came in the 27th minute from a Crew SC in transition. Columbus broke into midfield with Federico Higuain finding Schoenfeld to hold up the ball who dropped it to Mohammed Saied. Saied quickly swung it to Waylon Francis. Schoenfeld got a glancing header to the dipping cross, but Union goalkeeper Brian Sylvestre parried it wide to keep the game scoreless.
The home side kept applying pressure and forced the Crew SC offense into several bad turnovers. That would pay dividends in the 41st minute. After picking the ball up off an errant pass, the Union countered with speed and put the Columbus defense on the back foot. Vincente Nogiera's lateral dribble allowed the Sebastien Le Toux a direct run into the box. Le Toux took the pass and immediately crossed from close range for C.J. Sapong to tap in. The defensive breakdowns were significant but the rookie Campbell was in prime position to intercept, but he froze and the pass slipped through.
Crew SC nearly equalized as the match moved into first half stoppage time. Ethan Finlay dribbled past his defender at midfield and was unchecked until the top of the 18 box where he put the defense on the wrong foot and sent his shot just wide.
The match was quickly decided after halftime as the result of a couple defensive errors. Steve Clark easily saved a long Union shot and quickly looked to transition. He bobbled and lost the ball at the top of the 18 yard box. It fell to Nogiera 35 yards from goal. He one timed a chip shot into the open net to extend the lead to 2-0 in the 52nd minute.
The route was complete six minutes later. Sheanon Williams eluded Emmanuel Pogatetz. Campbell was slow to rotate onto Williams who played a simple cross on the ground to give the tap in for Le Toux.
Berhalter would turn his eye to Saturday with a couple of substitutions just minutes after the third goal. Higuain and Finlay would be lifted with Kamara and Ben Speas entering the game. Francis also got a little rest with Hector Jimenez relieving.
The Union played a full strength lineup while Crew SC rotated heavily. It showed. With a packed schedule, the team had a chance to earn some points against teams below them in the table. They have earned one out of a possible six points available. Montreal comes to MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday and a win is a must if Columbus hopes to avoid slipping further down the standings.