It was another listless road performance for Columbus Crew SC on the west coast. After a solid start, Columbus fell behind on a first half penalty then gave away three more goals in the second to get beaten handily 4-0.
Zack Steffen returned to the lineup, but there were several notable absences. Eduardo Sosa again replaced Federico Higuain. Hector Jimenez added a second straight start in place of Milton Valenzuela. Rico Clark was a surprise starter in place of Artur.
Despite the changes, Columbus looked better early on. They were able to fire in nine shots within 30 minutes, but only testing David Bingham once. It would take a while for the hosts to settle into the game, often looking to counter through long outlets to Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but rarely creating danger.
LA would finally break through on one of their attacks in the 42nd minute. Starting on the right with Chris Pontius swinging the ball centrally to Ibrahimovic who would drop it to Jonathan Dos Santos. He’d play a give and go with Ashley Cole. The left back slipped past Pedro Santos and crossed, finding Ola Kamara to make it 1-0.
Columbus nearly equalized just after the kickoff. Playing down the right, Santos sent a ball towards the touchline. Gyasi Zardes crossed the ball and it was poked home for an own goal, but the score was waved off after video review. None of the TV replays were conclusive, but referee Joe Dickerson overturned the call and took the score off the board just before half.
The Galaxy would get another controversial call just after the break. With the home side in possession, the ball would be played high into the six yard box. Lalas Abubakar and Ibrahimovic challenged for the ball and Lalas bumped Zlatan who fell to the ground. While the challenge appeared weak, Dickerson called the penalty. Ibrahimovic converted to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute.
Columbus desperately pushed forward to create anything in the game and paid the price in the 67th minute. Romain Alessandrini was able to dispossess Abubakar at the top of the box after a loose ball fell to the center back. Alessandrini danced past the backline, cut back and fired in a shot to extend the lead to 3-0.
Crew SC would push for a goal, having a chance in the 69th minute when Zardes, Niko Hansen, and Harrison Afful all had chances in quick succession inside the six-yard box. The first was saved and the other two were blocked.
LA would have the last chance, and goal, at the tail end of injury time. With Crew SC again pushed up, Alessandrini sped through the vacant midfield and launched a shot from outside the box and beat Steffen to make it 4-0.
Misfire: It’s the same story for the Crew SC offense. They had 60% possession and fired in 20 shots, but it mattered little. Only five shots were on target and four of them were after Columbus was down 3-0.
DP-less: Crew SC started only one of their designated players on the night. Milton Valenzuela and Federico Higuain were held in reserve so the offensive focus fell to Pedro Santos. The Portuguese winger lasted 45 minutes before being substituted. The offensive struggles continue and the team likely wanted to see more than a goal and four assists that Santos has provided in his 16 appearances, all starts on the season.
Up Next: The loss drops Columbus 8-6-6 and 30 points on the year, leaving the team in fourth place. The road doesn’t get any easier as Crew SC heads to New York to play NYCFC, currently unbeaten at home, next Saturday at 7pm.