The Columbus Crew's mastery over the New York Red Bulls in the MLS playoffs continued when it beat the 2018 Supporters' Shield champions, 1-0, in the first leg of their Eastern Conference series.
The Crew has dominated the Red Bulls in the playoffs, beating them for its only MLS title in 2008 and
winning series in 1998 and 2015 (when the Red Bulls were also the Supporters' Shield champions).
The Red Bulls won their third Supporters' Shield in six years following a record-setting
2018 regular season, but they will have to make up a one-goal deficit in the second leg against the Crew without the benefit of any away goals if they continue in their bid to return to MLS Cup for
the first time since their defeat to the Crew a decade ago. Man of the Match.
Following its shootout win over D.C. United on
Thursday night, Crew coach Gregg Berhalter
chose to leave 34-year-old Federico Higuain
on the bench for the start of the game. The Crew created few opportunities, but that changed
when Higuain, who scored both goals against D.C. United and converted his penalty kick in the shootout, came on for Patrick Mullins
to start the second half.
Pipa was the
difference for the Crew, flicking a long pass from Milton Valenzuela
into the path of Gyasi Zardes
, who was open to score his 20th goal of the season. Moment of the Match.
After the Crew went ahead, the Red Bulls didn't create a serious opportunity until the dying seconds of stoppage time when
' glancing header appeared to be headed into the goal for the equalizer, but Zack Steffen
, the hero of the shootout on Thursday night, dived to his left and tipped
the ball wide of the post. Talking Point.
The Crew's six shots were the fewest it created at home all the season in an MLS
game. Until Sunday, the fewest shots were 11 against Philadelphia in a 0-0 tie on Sept. 29. Next Up.
The Red Bulls and Crew
will play the second leg on Sunday at Red Bull Arena, where the Crew's last regular-season win on the road came in late July. What They're
“The game is about entertainment, and it’s nice to see a guy that the fans can come watch and he can do things they can appreciate. That’s what I think he
does. But aside from that, you take his work rate and his defensive pressing and those type of elements and he’s a handful."
-- Berhalter on Higuain, who is in his seventh season
with the Crew. Nov. 4 in Columbus, Ohio Columbus 1 NY Red Bulls 0.
Goal: Gyasi (Higuain, Valenzuela) 61.
Steffen; Afful, Mensah, Williams, Valenzuela; Meram (Abubakar 87), Artur, Argudo (Santos 67), Zardes, Trapp, Mullins (Higuain, 46). NY Red Bulls --
Parker, Long, Lawrence, Davis, Adams, Kaku, Muyl (Ivan 70), Royer (Etienne 63), Wright-Phillips. Yellow Cards:
Columbus -- Valenzuela 31; NY Red Bulls -- Davis 88. Att.: