Columbus Crew SC 2, New England Revolution 0 | 2016 MLS Match Recap
Kei Kamara made his return to Columbus, but it was his successor, Ola Kamara, who stole the show with a brace to keep Columbus Crew SC's faint playoff hopes on life support with a 2-0 win over the New England Revolution.
Ola showed excellent initiative in scoring his first goal, combining with several of his Columbus teammates to work the ball into the box. Though his initial cross low cross did not find its target, Crew SC were able to recirculate the ball back to the Norwegian striker, who did well to set himself up for a left-footed finish inside the near post.
With the Revs looking to create some breathing room between themselves and the red line and Crew SC looking just to stay alive in the playoff race, a chippy second half ensued. Columbus largely had the better of proceedings, and only the post denied a dangerous Harrison Afful his second goal of the season.
There were some flashpoints, such as when Tony Tchani caught Scott Caldwell with a forearm to the head off the ball and saw yellow early in the second half, as well as after a clash of heads between Caldwell and Ola Kamara in the 89th minute for which Caldwell saw yellow. But the decisive moment of the half came in the 82nd minute as referee Chris Penso whistled London Woodberry for shoving Ola Kamara in the box, leading to a penalty that the forward converted himself to ice Crew SC's win.
- 42' – CLB – Ola Kamara (Mohamed Saeid)
- 84' – CLB – Ola Kamara (penalty kick)
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- BATTLE OF THE KAMARAS: In the build-up to this match, all the focus was on Kei Kamara making his return to MAPFRE Stadium after his controversial trade in May, but Crew SC did their absolute best to make their former teammate a non-factor. Kei, who was roundly jeered by sections of the home crowd, was rarely allowed to get position in the area and he struggled for service with New England firmly on the back foot in the second half. Ola, on the other hand, was the spark a listing Crew SC needed as he made intelligent runs and combined smartly with his teammates to good effect. His and Columbus' only regret will be not scoring more in the second half, especially with the team clinging to a one-goal advantage until catching a break on the late penalty call.
- FLANK GAME: It was obvious from the start what Gregg Berhalter and Columbus were looking to do – get their fullbacks forward and overrun New England on the flanks as much as possible. Afful had free reign to bomb up and down the right-hand side and caused numerous problems for a fairly narrow Revs team. The issue on both sides of the field was clear to the Revs coaching staff, with assistant Tom Soehn telling FOX's Julie Stewart-Binks that their insertion of Teal Bunbury for Steve Neumann early in the second half was intended to be a countermeasure to Crew SC's overwhelming speed on the flanks. The gambit didn't directly lead to either Crew SC goal, but it did succeed in keeping the away team pinned back for much of the evening.
- FIRE UP THE REPLAY MACHINE: The second half provided plenty of Instant Replay fodder that will likely have both teams talking after the match and beyond. The clashes involving Tchani and Caldwell early in the half and Ola Kamara and Caldwell towards the end of the game were both spotted by Penso, who showed yellow cards to the aggressors in both cases, but both plays may warrant even more scrutiny after the dust settles. Additionally, the penalty given to Columbus for Woodberry's bump on Kamara was a major talking point after the game for an unhappy Jay Heaps, who will likely find some sympathetic ears among the FS1 broadcast crew, who voiced their disagreement with the call as it happened.