Columbus Crew SC 1, New England Revolution 0 | 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs Match Recap
Columbus Crew SC are headed to MLS Cup, thanks to a 1-0 win over the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Final at MAPRE Stadium on Sunday delivered by a second-half game-winning goal from Artur.
It marks the third time in club history Columbus will be headed to the final, and the first time since 2015, when they finished as the runner-up to the Portland Timbers. The Crew are now set to host next Saturday's championship bout of the 2020 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs against either Minnesota United or the Seattle Sounders, who play on Monday (TV & streaming info).
Neither side managed to strike in the first half of the match, although Columbus had the better of the opportunities, with Lucas Zelarayan and Pedro Santos notably finding clean looks on goal that were denied by some stalwart goalkeeping from Matt Turner.
The Revs had their best opportunity of the first half in the 28th minute, when Carles Gil played a ball over the top to Adam Buksa down the left side, allowing the Polish striker to streak by Jonathan Mensah and rip a shot on goal, only to see it deflect off the near post.
The Crew found their breakthrough just before the hour mark after Zelarayan sent in a cross to the far post that was laid back off across the box by Mensah, allowing Artur to coolly slot home a first-time finish.
The hosts would continue to apply the pressure in the aftermath of the goal, with Zelarayan nearly doubling the lead in spectacular fashion just three minutes later with an audacious attempt from distance that beat Turner but was denied by the woodwork.
The near-miss provided New England with a lifeline as they would press for an equalizer, but the Crew managed to bare down and see out the 1-0 final to crown themselves kings of the Eastern Conference for 2020.
- 59' - CLB - Artur | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: A year after missing the playoffs, Columbus now find themselves hosting MLS Cup. That's a testament to the job done by second-year coach Caleb Porter for instilling a winning culture from the get-go, as well as the new ownership group for giving him the pieces to work with. The Crew have the look of a team set up to be a contender, not just this season, but in the years to come. For the Revs, the future is also bright, despite the end of their remarkable playoff run. With Bruce Arena in charge and a lot of talent on the roster, particularly on the attacking side, New England should feel good about their prospects of being right back in the playoff mix in 2021.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: The Revs had done good work to absorb the Crew's pressure up until the decisive opener, which featured a pair of unlikely attacking heroes in the combination of Mensah and Artur.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Zelarayan was electric, but how about Jonathan Mensah? The Crew captain is known as one of the more rock-solid center backs in the league, but it was his awareness to lay the ball of to Artur that capped off the sequence on the game-winning goal. Throw in his usual hard work on the defensive side, and the veteran defender gets the honors.
- CLB: Saturday, Dec. 12 vs. Seattle Sounders or Minnesota United (8 pm ET | FOX, UniMas, TUDN in US; TSN in Canada) | Audi 2020 MLS Cup Final
- NE: End of season