Crew SC put out a changed lineup for the first game after being eliminated from playoff contention. The changes didn't help as Columbus put up a stiff late resistance only to fall to New York Red Bulls 3-2.
Columbus got some luck early. Brad Stuver, getting his first regular season appearance for the team tripped up Alex Muyl to give the home side the chance at an early lead. Sasha Kljestan stepped up to to take the penalty, but Stuver dove the right way and snuffed the chance.
The Crew SC offense was missing Federico Higuain and Ola Kamara. Ethan Finlay was rested as well. The changes stymied the attack as they fired a single shot. Tony Tchani was tasked as the playmaker and Cristian Martinez played on the right. Tchani struggled to create many chances while Martinez showed a lot of energy and flashes of skill, but is obviously still raw.
The second half started all New York Red Bulls and the onslaught came off the boot of Mike Grella in the 53rd minute. Stuver would save a point blank Bradley Wright-Phillips shot, but the Red Bulls collected the rebound. Chris Duvall would send the ball into Sasha Kljestan. He would square it to Grella for the finish and the earned lead.
Wright-Phillips would add a second Red Bull goal in the 58th minute, but it was a team effort as the Red Bulls sliced through the Crew SC defense with a five pass move that spanned the length of the field and put the ball at Wright-Phillips in the box. He finished from a tight angle for his 22nd of the season.
In the 70th minute, Kljestan whipped in a cross that was nodded to Wright-Phillips. He stabbed the ball into an open net to extend the lead to three goals to put the game well out of reach. Goal number 23 and assist number 19 from Kljestan, tying Guillermo Barros Schelotto's total from his excellent 2008.
Down three goals, Columbus would get a seemingly consolation tally through an excellent quick break started by a direct ball by Ethan Finlay. Meram picked up the pass in space on the left side and put in a one touch cross in to Adam Jahn. The big striker poked the ball home from 15 yards to pull the visitors back into the game.
Harrison Afful would give more life to Crew SC in the 83rd minute. After a perfect direct ball into the box by Michael Parkhurst, the right back would take a touch and place a perfect chip over Luis Robles to make the score 3-2.
The Red Bulls would see out the rest of the game to take all three points and send Crew SC to their 13th loss on the season. Columbus has 36 points on the year from an 8-13-12 record. They finish the season on the road at Yankee Stadium and New York City FC next Sunday at 4:00 PM.