Columbus Crew SC continued their impressive home record this season with their third win on the trot at MAPFRE Stadium, the winning goal coming from Justin Meram for his fourth off the season. Tonight’s game was the first of three against Toronto FC over the next six weeks.
Toronto had started the game in impressive fashion, pressing high up the field and forcing Columbus to play long from the back and dominating possession in the early exchanges.
The pressure told on 21 minutes and it was from the familiar head of Jozy Altidore from a Victor Vazquez corner that he originally won from good play down the right wing. The corner came in the center and Altidore rose high above Ola Kamara to power a pinpoint header past the despairing dive of Zack Steffen.
Toronto continued to dominate as the half continued, but they were unable to find the crucial second goal. Altidore could have had his a second of the night, but his shot from the left side of the area was well saved by Steffen down to his left. Steffen then pulled of a better save to deny Sebastian Giovinco’s curling effort that was destined for the bottom corner.
Crew SC head coach Gregg Berhalter had given Niko Hansen his first senior start of his career tonight and he provided the spark that turned around the half around for Columbus. Higuain’s right-sided through ball found him rushing into the box and his pinpoint cross picked out Kamara free at the far post to tap home for his fourth of the season.
The goal gave Columbus the shock they needed to start playing and their second came just seven minutes later from Justin Meram. Higuain right-sided corner was knocked down by the towering Alex Crognale and Meram applied the simple poked finish from close range.
The second half was less eventful with both teams struggling to create clear chances and it lacked the goals of the first. Crew SC’s best chance fell to Meram after a mazy run found him on the edge of the Toronto area, but his shot was weak and straight at Alex Bono.
Toronto FC did come back into the game and had their chances to steal a point. Their best fell to Nick Hagglund and again came from a Toronto corner. Hagglund had the time and space to plant the header, but he hit the center of the goal where Steffen comfortably saved.