MLS Playoffs: Moment of Pipa magic sends Crew past Red Bulls

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 Bradley Wright-Phillips' 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 Saying:
“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.
Columbus -- Steffen; Afful, Mensah, Williams, Valenzuela; Meram (Abubakar 87), Artur, Argudo (Santos 67), Zardes, Trapp, Mullins (Higuain, 46).
NY Red Bulls -- Robles; Murillo, 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.: 12,892.
5 comments about "MLS Playoffs: Moment of Pipa magic sends Crew past Red Bulls".
  1. beautiful game, November 5, 2018 at 8:35 a.m.

    Crew v NYRB game was more than a was pathetic. Until Higuain took the pitch in the second half, Crew looked like a Soccer IQ2 squad from top to bottom. Technical ability nowhere to be found, no purpose of play, getting rid of the ball instaed of possession, no mental awareness whatsover. TV commentators did the best excuse act of the year while the TV camera optics were bouncing around between the bench & pitch as the was the absence of quality suffocated the game. Zardes may be big and strong, but his technical soccer abilities are below third division level. Paul, IMHO, you're article was too long for this farce of a game.

  2. frank schoon replied, November 5, 2018 at 10:49 a.m.

    BG, that's what happens when there is little space and coupled with a small postage stamp size field, high defense, tight marking ,what happens as a result lesser skilled players will have problems and therefore you see what kind of soccer was played.
    Cruyff one stated that you can quickly tell how good a player is when he is faced with little space....

  3. beautiful game, November 5, 2018 at 5:06 p.m.

    Frank S., when players can't control or pass a ball properly withount any kind of pressure, I couldn't care less about the field, ofiiciating, tactics or anything else. The RB v Crew game was awful, period. Except for two palys in 90 minutes; this contest was a horror show. Less-skilled players is too kind of an observation. Space wasn't the issue in most cases; and when pressure appeared, it was 'send it". 

  4. frank schoon replied, November 5, 2018 at 6 p.m.

    BG, that's true too that players can't control ball without pressure but that has been a problem all along but the setting of this game made it even more difficult. This is why good players like Pirlo had difficulty playing in the MLS for the players in this league doesn't make it any easier. This is why only good individualists like a Zlatan no matter if he's 48 can survive for he doesn't depend on interplay with his teammates to look good. This was why Zlatan only lasted a year with Barcelona for he wasn't a cog in a well oiled machine like Barca.....

  5. beautiful game, November 5, 2018 at 6:51 p.m.


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