The Columbus Crew took full advantage of an emotional home crowd, a New York City FC red card and some shoddy goalkeeping to win 4-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinal first leg at Mapfre Stadium on Tuesday night.
It was the first home game for the Crew since owner Anthony Precourt announced he was considering moving the team to Austin, Texas, and fans made their desire to keep the club in Ohio known.
It was a dream start for Columbus, as the home side took the lead six minutes in. Pedro Santos caught Rodney Wallace in possession and his cross found Gonzalo Higuain. The Argentine's shot was saved by Sean Johnson, but Ola Kamara reacted quickest to put the rebound home.
Justin Meram missed a golden opportunity later in the half, as he skied an easy chance over the bar after Johnson coughed up a long rebound.
Minutes later, a bad Crew giveaway led to a one-on-one chance for David Villa, which the Spaniard surprisingly smashed off the post when most would've expected him to score.
The match and the series changed five minutes into the second half, as NYCFC defender Alexander Callens was shown a straight red card for a high elbow on Meram following a video review.
And it didn't take long for Columbus to take full advantage of the extra man, as Artur finished off a four-on-two break to make it 2-0.
The Crew would make it three in the 69th minute as a Meram shot found a gap underneath Sean Johnson, who will definitely want to avoid seeing the replay.
Villa did give the away side some hope with a huge away goal following a Jonathan Mensah mistake.
But Columbus got a killer fourth deep into stoppage time, as Harrison Afful brilliantly dribbled through most of the NYCFC back line and finished from close range.
NYCFC will look to overturn the three-goal deficit in the second leg at Yankee Stadium on Sunday.