Columbus Crew SC's road worries appear to be fading as the team won another game away from MAPFRE Stadium. Goals from Federico Higuain and Justin Meram gave Columbus enough offense to defeat New York City FC 2-1 and move into second place in the Eastern Conference (even if temporarily).
After the road struggles, the team has been preaching early goals and they got one off a set piece from Federico Higuain. It just wasn't his right boot. Wil Trapp took a 10th minute corner and swung it into the penalty area. Higuain easily lost Andrea Pirlo and powered a header past Josh Saunders to give the visitors a deserved early lead.
The visitors threatened to extend the lead as Columbus would repeatedly test the New York City FC defense with direct passing that confused the back line. In the 16th minute, Kei Kamara would take a pass that busted open the inept offside line. One on one with Saunders, Kamara would blaze his shot well high of the crossbar. Moments later, Kamara would again get behind the defense, but would get clipped up by a last minute intervention by Jefferson Mena, ending the threat.
Crew SC would soon rue those missed chances when the home side would strike. Patrick Mullins took down a direct ball in traffic and soon turned to find Andrew Jacobson. Jacobson would rip a 30 yard shot to even the score.
Both sides would sputter as the game moved towards halftime. NYCFC would have the better of the play after the goal, but they wouldn't significantly threaten the Crew SC goal.
The start second half would be similar to the end of the first. Neither team able to create real chances. Meram replaced Cedrick Mabwati, but that didn't instantly change the game. New York City FC proceeded to yield possession, but provided stiff defense in the final third.
Columbus would start to find a rhythm with 15 minutes left in the game. They would play direct down the right channel, repeatedly finding Ethan Finlay, Harrison Afful, and Higuain. Afful sent in a beautiful cross, but Kamara couldn't get to it and proceeded to punch the ball into goal. The ref gave him a yellow for his trouble. Finlay would take the initiative and take a through ball and fire a shot that forced Saunders into a point blank save.
The winner came just a minute later off an NYCFC turnover. Tony Tchani pinged the loose ball to Higuain. He then found Meram on the left. He cut to the middle and unleashed a low drive that found the opposite side of goal to give Columbus the winning goal in the 83rd minute.
Crew SC closed out the game well as the home side looked spent. Columbus is now 3-1-1 in their last five road games. The result also moved them up to second in the Eastern Conference as the final two months of the season now loom. At 11-8-8, they now have 41 points and a firm hold on a playoff spot and a chance to move up the standings.