Ethan Finlay scored twice on Saturday night to bring Columbus Crew SC back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the New York Red Bulls. Kei Kamara provided both assists in pacing the team to a 2-1 victory. The result is the second victory in three games for Gregg Berhalter’s team, and extends their unbeaten streak to four games in league play.
Columbus named an unchanged starting lineup from previous games. Hector Jimenez continued his stronghold over the right back position, while Kristinn Steindorsson was once again the first substitute off the bench. The most dramatic moment from a lineup perspective came in the 88th minute when Wil Trapp made his first league appearance April 8th.
Justin Meram almost grabbed the game’s first goal in the third minute, but his volleyed shot missed the far corner of the goal by less than a yard. Several other Columbus attacks came and went in the opening five minutes, but each time the crucial movement was lacking – whether it was Kei Kamara getting the ball caught under his legs or corner kicks curling onto New York defenders.
Having weathered this early storm, New York then grabbed the game’s first goal in the eighth minute. Anatole Abang raced onto a defense-splitting pass from Bradley Wright-Phillips, beating Emanuel Pogatetz by a half step to the ball on a run toward the corner. Rather than stopping and facing goal, however, Abang pressed his advantage and shot across his body to the far post. His shot rolled past Steve Clark’s lunging save attempt and nestled in the side netting for an early 1-0 lead.
Abang’s goal marked the fifth consecutive league game in which Columbus has conceded the opening goal.
New York’s Mike Grella had a chance to double the lead two minutes later but his curling, Justin Meram-esque shot curled just past the post. Columbus was consistently troubled by New York’s application of pressure throughout the field, and Columbus was lucky to escape a few other episodes without a greater deficit.
In the 33rd minute, Ethan Finlay scored his fourth goal of the season to level the score. Goalkeeper Steve Clark started the play with a long ball up the right flank, picking out Kei Kamara in the attacking half. Kamara flicked a header into the path of Ethan Finlay, who cut back his run and curled a shot into the far side netting.
New York held the edge in the closing stages of the first half, and twice forced Steve Clark into saves. Both Abang’s and Wright-Phillips’ shots were from distance, giving the Columbus netminder time to react.
Columbus, accustomed to holding an edge in passing and possession under Berhalter’s style of play, found itself with a statistically insignificant lead in those two categories at halftime. That narrative improved during the second half, and the team correspondingly had better scoring chances in the second stanza.
Kei Kamara in particular was more involved, starting with an acrobatic bicycle attempt in the 47th minute. Subsequent chances in the 50th and 52nd minute firmly established Columbus as the aggressor, but still the score remained tied.
New York mounted some pressure of their own in the middle of the second half, and saw their calls for a penalty kick denied after the ball struck Waylon Francis’ left arm in the 65th minute.
Finlay’s second of the night put the Crew in front, a lead which they would not relinquish. Federico Higuain started the sequence with a chipped pass to Kei Kamara to the left of goal. Kamara picked out Finlay with a half-step lead on his marker, threading a pass across the goal mouth for an easy tap in by the former Creighton star.
Columbus had a handful of chances to extend their lead in the closing stages, but Luis Robles each time produced the needed save – first on Higuain in the 75th minute and then on Kamara in the 83rd.
Robles’ heroics set the stage for a furious climax from New York, who put Columbus under significant pressure in the game’s closing stages. Steve Clark produced a highlight-worthy save of his own in the 84th minute, stopping Bradley Wright-Phillips at close range to preserve the one-goal margin of victory.
The return of Wil Trapp in the 88th minute provided an emotional boost to the team, and also resulted in an interesting positional footnote. In replacing Federico Higuain, Berhalter elected to push Mohammed Saeid into the attacking midfield position, reuniting the duo of Trapp and Tchani at holding midfield behind the Swedish midfielder.
What it means
Saturday’s victory, combined with losses by almost every other Eastern Conference club, lifts Columbus into a three-way tie for second place in the conference. DC United still leads the pack with 35 points at the top, followed by the trio of Columbus, New England, and Orlando all with 24 points. Columbus and Orlando have reached this total in 18 games, while New England has played 20. Nipping at their heels is the pair of Toronto and New York Red Bulls, both with 23 points (from 16 and 17 games respectively).
Columbus plays their next two games on the road, starting next Saturday with a trip to Montreal. That will be followed by a midweek trip to Chicago, the first of a home-and-home series that will conclude in Columbus on July 19th. July ends with a home game against Toronto on July 25th.
Timeline of events
6′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – out for goal kick)
8′ 0-1 Anatole Abang (Bradley Wright-Phillips)
11′ Corner kick, New York (right side – caught by Clark)
17′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed clear)
20′ Corner kick, New York (left side – headed wide of goal)
28′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – headed clear)
29′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed clear)
30′ Caution, Tony Tchani (dissent)
33′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed clear)
33′ 1-1 Ethan Finlay (Kei Kamara, Steve Clark)
34′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed shot blocked by Connor Lade)
39′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – foul called on Columbus)
44′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – taken short, Jimenez shot blocked)
54′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – 10th of the game – no shot taken)
54′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed clear)
55′ Lloyd Sam replaces Sean Davis
56′ Caution, Damien Perrinelle (dangerous foul on Tony Tchani)
56′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – caught by Robles)
67′ Sal Zizzo replaces Anatole Abang
70′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – punched by Robles)
71′ Kristinn Steindorsson replaces Justin Meram
74′ 2-1 Ethan Finlay (Kei Kamara, Federico Higuain)
76′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – headed clear)
78′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – headed clear)
82′ Corner kick, New York (right side – headed clear)
84′ Corner kick, New York (right side – short, no shot taken)
88′ Wil Trapp replaces Federico Higuain
92+ Aaron Schoenfeld replaces Kei Kamara
94+ Caution, Felipe Martins (dissent)
Columbus Crew SC
Steve Clark, Hector Jimenez, Michael Parkhurst, Emanuel Pogatetz, Waylon Francis, Tony Tchani, Mohammed Saeid, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain (Wil Trapp 88′), Justin Meram (Kristinn Steindorsson 71′), Kei Kamara (Aaron Schoenfeld 92+)
Brad Stuver, Chris Klute, Tyson Wahl, Ben Speas
New York Red Bulls
Luis Robles, Connor Lade, Matt Miazga, Damien Perrinelle, Kemar Lawrence, Mike Grella, Felipe Martins, Sacha Kljestan, Sean Davis (Lloyd Sam 55′), Bradley Wright-Phillips, Anatole Abang (Sal Zizzo 67′)
Kyle Reynish, Shawn McLaws, Anthony Wallace, Leo Stolz, Manolo Sanchez