Despite losing Josh Williams to a red card, Columbus came back from a goal down to win its fourth game in a row.
Dominating the ball early, the Union earned the spoils of all their possession in the 28th minute, as midfielder Michael Farfan drew a yellow card on Columbus’ Chris Birchall 30 yards from goal. Carlos Valdes stepped up and curled the ball towards Matt Lampson’s right post. It hit the wall, deflecting into the far left corner past the out-of-position keeper.
Shortly after the home team took the lead, the Crew went on the offensive, hitting their passes and making incisive runs along the flanks. After Dilly Duka won a free kick off a Sheanon Williams foul, newcomer Federico Higuain (brother of Real Madrid’s Gonzalo) laced a cross that teammate Josh Williams met and headed just inside Union keeper Zac MacMath’s near post, knotting the game in the 41st minute.
Columbus midfielder Eddie Gaven saw a chance to break the tie just before halftime, but his six-yard volley of Duka’s cross sailed over the crossbar.
With both squads desperately needing three points to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture, the second half saw a much chippier, testy brand of soccer played almost entirely in Columbus’ defensive end. Williams was sent off in the 67th minute for a bad foul on Union sub Antoine Hoppenot; Hoppenot was then shown yellow himself for shoving the trash-talking Danny O’Rourke.
Bodies flying, Philadelphia found its attacking mojo immediately thereafter, but chance after chance was stonewalled by a sea of yellow jerseys and a handful of phenomenal saves by Lampson behind them. Deep into stoppage time, each team traded fanciful opportunities on goal, but only Gaven could break the stalemate. Flying down the left side of goal, Higuain’s shot was saved by MacMath, but the rebound slid right into Gaven’s path, and the Crew’s veteran leader put the ball, and the match, away.
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