Last year, the New England Revolution catapulted into the playoffs by defeating the Columbus Crew twice in a home-and-home series to end the regular season. This year, the Crew are using wins against the Revs to maintain their playoff status.
Federico Higuain scored off a direct free kick, for the second time this season against New England, just after halftime and Crew keeper Steve Clark made 6 saves in a shutout performance as Columbus won their fifth straight at Crew Stadium, defeating the Revs 1-0.
The first half started off evenly with both teams generating early chances. Justin Meram and Aaron Schoenfeld in the 8th and 13th minutes respectfully for the Crew offset chances from Lee Nguyen in the 15th and Diego Fagundez in the 19th. Aside from that 5 minute stretch, the Crew dominated possession and passing in the first half and also generated several scoring chances.
Crew right back Eric Gehrig had himself a brilliant first half, routinely beating Diego Fagundez down the Revs flank and generating chances. Two headed chances in the 25th and 30 minutes resulted in a miss and a full stretch save from Bobby Shuttleworth.
Schoenfeld would drag a shot wide minutes later but it would be Gerhig again who almost came close to scoring. In the 38th minute following a Higuain corner, Gerhig rose up and headed the ball with power only to be denied by the post. It best chance for the Crew of the half. But it would not be their last.
Jermaine Jones started the game on the bench but entered at halftime for Daigo Kobayashi as Revs head coach Jay Heaps tried to invigorate the Revs following a lackluster first half.
Just after the halftime restart, Darrius Barnes fouled Ethan Finlay and was cautioned, giving the Crew a free kick at the top of the box. Well with in Higuain's range. And for the second time this season the Crew's playmaker and set piece specialist buried the chance.
It was the fourth time in a row the Revolution had fell behind in a match, and despite winning the previous three, the Revs never seemed to be in this game. Chances from Jones in the 64th and Nguyen again in the 68th on a set piece which forced another brilliant save by Clark seemed to be the only real chances generated.
The second half dissolved into a rather chippy affair. Jermaine Jones wasn't happy on several calls on which he thought he was fouled. Higuain was booked in the 72nd minute for time wasting on a free kick and overall Ted Unkel issued six cards on the night, five to Columbus.
The game was almost sealed in the 85th minute, when A.J. Soares' sliding challenge took down Meram and Unkel rightfully pointed to the spot. Higuain stepped up to the spot as the Crew's designated penalty taker despite not having a great career average, and his poor penalty was clawed away but Shuttleworth to give the Revolution a late lifeline.
The Revs would get two late chances, a brilliant curling effort from Charlie Davies on a break was saved by the fingertips of Clark and a stoppage time free kick from Chris Tierney was caught on the back post to end the Revolution comeback.
The Revolution will maintain third place in the Eastern Conference despite the loss and will play at Sporting Kansas City next Friday, September 26th in a nationally televised game on NBCSN at 8PM EST.