Any hope for the post season hinged on three points against the other playoff contenders, Crew SC got those three points with a 4-1 win over Orlando City SC to keep the possibilities of playoff soccer alive for another week.
Columbus struck early with a direct attack down the middle of the Orlando defense. Justin Meram, pinching centrally, picked up the ball and threaded an absolutely brilliant pass to Ola Kamara. Crew SC then had a two on one with Kamara bearing down on the stranded Joe Bendik in goal. Kamara tapped wide to Ethan Finlay and a wide open net for the 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.
Crew SC would widen the lead in the 22nd minute. Hector Jimenez drove in a corner that stretched the overmatched Orlando defense out of shape. Seb Hines was late to cover Meram and he sent the ball into his own net. The visitors secured a 2-0 lead midway through the first half.
Orlando was reeling and never were able to counter the Crew SC attacks. They would launch seven shots and four would force saves from Steve Clark, none of them challenging. Instead it would be the visitors that would have the best chance to extend their lead. before the half.
The first chance at the third goal came in the 43rd minute as Nicolai Naess slipped another through ball onto Kamara. The forward was one on one with Bendik, but was forced around and couldn't get off a shot. Naess would send in another through pass, this time to Finlay behind the defense. He quickly centered it past Bendik and into the path of a wide open Kamara to tally the third just before halftime.
Crew SC would be content to sit back in the second half and Orlando would turn the possession advantage well in their favor. Orlando would finally test Clark with several excellent shots. He would punch the ball wide in the 59th minute. He then came up with a big save 10 minutes later as Kaka bore down on goal.
The home side would finally break through with a Cyle Larin bender from 22 yards in traffic as Clark was screened in the 79th minute. Crew SC was still in a commanding position with 10 minutes remaining and Orlando wouldn't be able to close the gap any further.
Crew SC had a chance to emphatically close out the game as Finlay once again split the defense. Kamara picked up the ball, but his shot was deflected to Adam Jahn. With a wide open goal, he put it well over. The visitors would eventually close out the game with another quick strike goal. With Orlando pressing to get back in the game, Columbus broke quickly with Finlay picking up the ball at midfield and getting it to Kamara. He chipped over Bendik to make it 4-1 in the 95th minute.
Columbus is now 6-13-9 with 29 points. They began the night 8 points out of the playoffs, but only closed the gap one since New England jumped over Orlando and DC to 36 points. Crew SC faces New England next Sunday at 7pm. It will mark the return of Kei Kamara to MAPFRE Stadium for the first time since his trade in May.