Federico Higuain scored two goals to propel the Columbus Crew to a 2-0 win over the New York Red Bulls Saturday night in their first home game since PrecourtSports Ventures purchased the team on July 30.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak for the Crew. It was the third time this season they have triumphed over a first place team, and the other two wins have also come at home. The Red Bulls fell to second in the Eastern Conference standings with the defeat.
“It’s tough to play against a team like this. With a good performance and a little bit of luck, you can win the games,” said Crew coach Robert Warzycha during a press conference after the match.
Higuain’s first goal Saturday came on a penalty kick opportunity after Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was flagged for contact in midair while defending a Crew free kick.
The goal was the Higuain’s fifth from the penalty spot this season and seventh overall.
Robles guessed and dove to his right and Higuain easily scored kicking to the opposite corner.
If the Red Bulls had any beef with the officiating that set up the first goal, they could have found no fluke or flaw inHiguain’s second goal, notched in the 76th minute.
The Argentine team captain caught Robles venturing dangerously far out of his goal, and he chipped the ball from 20 yards away into the upper left corner of the goal with a skillful crossing shot.
Rookie center defending midfielder Wil Trapp was credited with the assist, his first as a pro.
“If you score goals like the second one that Pipa (Higuain’s team nickname) scored, I mean, that’s why we come into the stadium. That’s why we’re coaching, that’s why we’re playing. We’re looking for goals like that,” said Warzycha.
Ohio State alum Matt Lampson served capably in goal for the Crew in place of the injured Andy Gruenebaum, making key saves throughout the game.
The Red Bulls have had success late in games, with 12 goals after the 75th minute of play this season. Lampson’s late save of a Jonathan Steele shot helped the home team avoid having to claw their way back from a deficit.
“I didn’t see it until really late, and credit to him because that was a hell of a shot. I just got my body in the way and swung a flipper at it, and luckily, it went off the crossbar,” said Lampson in a postgame interview.
On the whole, however, The Red Bulls weren’t as aggressive as the Crew throughout the match. From early on, the away team failed to engage the Crew’s core of backs during defensive possessions, preferring instead to sit back and wait for the ball to come to their side of the field.
Along with Viana and center back Josh Williams, Trapp and fellow University of Akron product Chad Barson anchored the defense and controlled the tempo of the game with methodical passing and turnover-free ball handling.
Trapp spoke after the game about what the Crew did wrong two weeks ago—when they lost to Toronto FC on the road—that they were able to do right Saturday night. The Canadian squad visits Columbus next Saturday in the tiebreakingthird matchup of the rival teams this season.
“Tonight, from front to back, it was a complete performance. We closed out the game. That’s something we didn’t do in the Toronto game. In the second half, we didn’t attack anymore. We sat back and let them attack and attack. When you keep absorbing those waves of pressure, it’s going to be tough to keep out a goal. Tonight, we did a good job of having the mindset that once we get one, we’ve got to get two. That was definitely key, and I think if we transition that to Toronto, we’re going to have a good shot at winning the game,” said Trapp.
Crew Stadium observed a pregame moment of silence in commemoration of former Crew player Kirk Urso, who passed away on Aug. 5, 2012, from a congenital heart defect at age 22.
Owner Anthony Precourt participated in the pregame coin toss.
As for the Crew securing a win at home in front of new ownership, Lampson said, “Every single player on the field today came and they brought it. And Mr. Precourt can be very pleased with what we have, and I think it’s a sign of the things we’re capable of. He can have lofty goals because that’s what we can do as a team.”