Columbus Crew SC hosted the Portland Timbers in front of a capacity crowd Saturday but could not effectively harness its offensive weapons enough to knock off their Western Conference foe, falling by a final scoreline of 2-1.
On a night when the Black and Gold were commemorating a storied soccer pedigree and only needed a draw to clinch a postseason berth, efficient defending and ability to capitalize on Columbus mistakes carried Portland to the win.
Crew SC played down a goal for most of the match. Timbers forward Fanendo Adi notched a brace for the visitors on scores at the 28' and 50' marks, sandwiching a Kei Kamara goal in the 43rd minute.
Kamara was able to pounce forward inside the box to convert a Federico Higuain corner for a sharply angled, acrobatic header past Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey.
Substitutions in the 65th minute saw midfielders Mohamed Saeid and Cedric Mabwati replace Tony Tchani and Ethan Finlay, respectively, in a move that seemed geared toward getting fresh legs to spark Crew SC's attack. But the equalizer never came despite frenetic effort to get it in a chippy contest.
The most damning statistic for Columbus on the evening was the abysmal ratio of on-target shots to total shots, just three of 11 taken. Meanwhile, seven of Portland's 13 attempts were accurate.
A rowdy Columbus audience of 22,719—the venue's highest recorded attendance of the 2015 season—will have to wait at least another week to celebrate a confirmed playoff spot. Crew SC travels to Harrison, N.J., to face the New York Red Bulls on October 3. NYRB are perched atop the Eastern Conference standings.