Watch Caleb Porter discuss Columbus Crew SC’s 3-1 win over the LA Galaxy.Posted by Massive Report on Wednesday, May 8, 2019
Wednesday night could have been an extension of what has been one of the worst losing streaks in Columbus Crew SC history. The Black & Gold came into the match losers of five consecutive games as the offense struggled to find goals. Instead, the goals began to flow and Columbus defeated the LA Galaxy 3-1.
The first major chance of the game came for the visitors. The Galaxy got into the Crew’s penalty box thanks to wide attacker Uriel Antuna. The midfielder fired a shot that was blocked by center back Gaston Sauro but the rebound fell to Jorgen Skjelvik. The fullback had lethal striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the middle of the 18-yard box but fired a first-time shot into the side netting.
Five minutes later and the Black & Gold had their first good look of the match. Robinho found his fellow winger, Pedro Santos, in the penalty box. The Portuguese player fired a quick shot but it was blocked by LA defender Daniel Steres.
The Black & Gold had a scary moment defensively in the 23rd minute when a corner kick found the head of Skjelvik in the six-yard box. The defender didn’t know much about it but the ball bounced right in front of Zack Steffen’s goal and a scramble ensued. Columbus was able to clear, but it was a moment of the home side playing with fire at the back against a dangerous offensive opponent.
Throughout the first half, it was noticeable that the Crew attempted to build the attack in different ways than in previous games. After being so reliant on crosses in recent weeks, the Black & Gold attempted to build through the middle of the field frequently on Wednesday, yet their attempts to get the ball to forward Gyasi Zardes were thwarted by the Galaxy.
Ironically, it was going back to the old ways where Columbus found the opening goal. After failing to score in the last six games, Zardes beat the LA defenders to a lofted cross from Robinho and finished by goalkeeper David Bingham for a 1-0 lead.
The Crew took a 1-0 advantage into the halftime locker room after holding off a Galaxy push to close the opening 45 minutes.
Just five minutes into the second half, Ibrahimovic almost gave LA the equalizer. The former Manchester United forward got on the end of a cross, easily out-jumping fullback Hector Jimenez and put a header on frame. Steffen dove to his right to deny the Galaxy forward.
Quickly at the other end, Federico Higuain made the away team rue the miss by Ibrahimovic. Zardes received a long pass, bringing trapping the ball with a defender closing down on his back. The forward picked up his head and played a pass into space. Higuain appeared years younger, speeding up as he ran into the LA penalty box before firing a shot off the back post and into the net for a 2-0 lead.
After the struggles offensively in recent weeks, it was an air of disbelief when the Crew scored a third goal in the 66th minute. This time it was fullback Hector Jimenez who latched on to a free ball after a Steres sliding challenge to deny Zardes. Jimenez ripped a shot by Bingham for the 3-0 lead.
Once again, Ibrahimovic almost pulled one back for the Galaxy. He chested down a ball played to the top of the penalty box and fired a shot that clanged off the crossbar in the 70th minute.
With just two minutes left in the match, the Crew fell asleep defensively and spoiled the shutout. On an LA corner, Steres went unmarked to the back post and easily tucked home an effort to pull the match to 3-1 and make thing slightly uncomfortable at MAPFRE Stadium.
There was not enough in the legs of the Galaxy for a comeback though and the Crew held on to end the five-game losing streak, picking up the team’s first points since April 6.
Setting the record
On April 6 in the 1-0 win against the New England Revolution, Federico Higuain tied the Crew record for assists with 61. On Saturday, Higuain was credited with a secondary assist on Gyasi Zares’ goal, passing club legend and former head coach Robert Warzycha and making him the Black & Gold’s all-time assist leader. After the game, club president Tim Bezbatchenko presented Higuain with the game ball.
Interestingly enough, Higuain accomplished this front of another Crew legend and his countryman, Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Schelotto is the head coach of the Galaxy and made his return to MAPFRE Stadium after spending four seasons with Columbus and winning the team’s only MLS Cup title.
Ending the slump
It was not only the first three-goal performance for the Crew since July of 2018 and finally a scoring outburst from the Black & Gold, but it was also a nice relief from forward Gyasi Zardes. The striker had not gone more than three games without scoring since joining Columbus ahead of last season until this year. Heading into this match, Zardes hadn’t found the back of the net in six matches.
Zardes’ goal in the first half was much needed for the forward, who played well but just couldn’t find the back of the next in recent contests.
The Crew have another quick turnaround after this win. The Black & Gold welcome the MLS leaders, Los Angeles Football Club to MAPRE Stadium. That game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET.