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New EnglandNE

Columbus Crew 1, New England Revolution 0 | MLS Match Recap

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Thanks to a trademark Federico Higuain strike, the Columbus Crew notched a critical 1-0 win over the New England Revolution in an Eastern Conference showdown Saturday.

Higuain's moment of brilliance made the difference early in the second half for the Crew (10-9-10), who drew to within two points of New England (13-13-3) in the midst of a heated playoff race for the final Eastern Conference berths.

New England's Jermaine Jones began the match on the bench, while the Crew waited another week to debut newly acquired defender Emanuel Pogatetz.

The Crew bucked their penchant for slow starts and came out of the gate flying, thanks in large part to a dominant midfield performance from Tony Tchani, whose physical effort constantly manifested itself throughout the match.

While the Revolution had the odd chance in the first half, Columbus dominated, racking up 65 percent of possession and advantages in shots, corners and passing.

Despite golden chances for Aaron Schoenfeld, Ethan Finlay and Eric Gehrig, the Crew couldn't find an opener in the first half, and went to the locker room at halftime without payoff for their performance.

But just three minutes into the second half, the Crew found their breakthrough with a magical strike from Higuain.

A New England foul gave Columbus a free kick from prime Higuain territory. The Argentinian stepped up with his usual dead ball confidence and swung in a powerful, curling effort into the top corner that left New England goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth no chance.

Higuain had a chance to put the game on ice in the 84th minute, when AJ Soares gave the Crew a penalty kick for a late tackle that took Justin Meram's legs out from underneath him.

But for the third time in 2014, Higuain scuffed the shot and left Shuttleworth with an easy save.

Charlie Davies nearly made the Crew pay for the missed opportunity just moments later when the forward found himself free on a breakaway. But in what may prove to be a season-saving stop, Crew keeper Steve Clark dove to his left and got enough of a fingertip on the ball to send it wide, clinching the game for the Crew despite the best chance of the night for New England. Men of the Match

Rank Player What We Saw
1 Federico Higuain The Argentinian is so much more than a luxury player for the Crew. Not only did he deliver a patented free kick for the winner, he was at the heart of most Columbus attacks.
2 Tony Tchani What a performance from the big man in the middle. The Crew needed a big game from Tchani if they wanted to slow down the red-hot Revs, and he owned the center of the park both defensively, and springing Crew counter attacks.
3 Steve Clark Had a quiet night, until the very end that is. With the Crew clinging to a one-goal lead after Higuain's PK was saved at the other end, Clark cam up HUGE with a save on Charlie Davies who was clean through. Might be a save that saves a season.


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