Columbus Crew 2, New England Revolution 4 | MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
The New England Revolution couldn't have drawn up a much better start, and the Columbus Crew likely never imagined it would be this bad.
The Revolution got off the ground in emphatic fashion in the Eastern Conference semifinal series of the MLS Cup Playoffs presented by AT&T on Saturday, scoring four away goals to defeat Columbus 4-2 at Crew Stadium.
Charlie Davies led the way for the Revs with a brace that included a stinging shot off the post for the team's fourth goal of the day, and Chris Tierney and Lee Nguyen also added their names to the scoreseet with impressive finishes of their own.
The Revs now hold the edge in the series as the teams head to Gilette Stadium for the second leg on Nov. 9. They not only lead the series on aggregate goals, but their four away goals give them an advantage in the first season that MLS will honor road goals as a tiebreaker if the series ends even on aggregate goals.
Davies opened the scoring in the 34th minute of the testy affair played in windy conditions, getting wide open on a well-executed free kick and diving to nod home a ball sent in by Kelyn Rowe. The goal came five minutes after unmarked Crew forward Justin Meram saw a shot denied by the crossbar, an unlucky break for a Crew team that beat New England twice in three games during the regular season.
Moments after Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark did well to block a Teal Bunbury shot, New England won a free kick from 22 yards out that wound up in the back of the net in the 51st minute. Nguyen faked a shot by running over the ball on the set piece, and Tierney proceeded to unleash a stunning left-footed strike that Clark could not paw away.
The Crew received a much-needed lifeline in the 64th minute, as Meram calmly smacked a shot home off a feed from Will Trapp that was slightly deflected to make it 2-1.
But Nguyen reestablished the Revolution's two-goal lead six minutes later, punctuating a lightning-quick counter attack by taking the ball up the spine of the field before hitting a low effort inside the left post. It ultimately stood as the game-winner, giving Nguyen 10 decisive tallies this year.
A similar play in transition led to another Davies' second goal in the 78th minute. The veteran forward made a penetrating run up the middle before bending a wicked shot off the far post and in.
The Revolution had a hiccup late that allowed the Crew to close the deficit ahead of the return leg. Jose Goncalves was called for a handball in the third minute of stoppage time, and Federico Higuain chipped the ensuing penalty kick down the middle while Bobby Shuttleworth incorrectly dove left.
The Revolution now head home with a chance to reach the Eastern Conference Championship for the first time since 2007, while the Crew are looking to avoid elimination in their first postseason appearance since 2011.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Charlie Davies||His two goals were his biggest contributions, but he added more than just that. Davies threatened the Crew's back line over and over with his pesky runs, and both his finishes were impressive.|
|2||Jermaine Jones||Involved in attacks and skirmishes, Jones was everywhere in his first MLS Cup Playoffs match. The veteran helped to set the physical tone against Columbus, and he helped spring the counterattack that led to Nguyen's winner.|
|3||Lee Nguyen||Another impressive display for the MVP candidate was punctuated by a well-taken winner that washed away Columbus' thoughts of a comeback minutes after they made it 2-1.|