After losing at Chicago on Saturday, 3-2, the Crew have dropped to a wild card spot for the MLS Playoffs. Instead of automatically making it to the conference semi-finals as one of the top three spots in the Eastern Conference, Columbus dropped to fourth after their loss against the Fire and the Houston Dynamo’s victory against the LA Galaxy.
Chicago’s win improved their regular season record to 9-9-16 (43 points). However, they did not make it to the postseason. The Crew’s record of 13-13-8 gave them 47 points, the fourth spot in the East, and the third wild card position for the playoffs.
Jalil Anibaba scored the first two goals of the game for Chicago in the 11th and 30th minutes. His first goal came off a header from Pavel Pardo’s service into the box. Anibaba outjumped Crew defender Julius James on his way to heading the ball in the net. At the half hour mark, he scored on another header crossed in from almost the same spot, this time from Cory Gibbs. Anibaba’s looping header beat William Hesmer at the far post to give the Fire a 2-0 advantage.
Columbus had to wait until the 73rd minute to get a goal back. Eddie Gaven sent in a cross from the right touch line. Emilio Renteria maneuvered his way to the ball to be be able to hit a bicycle-kick-esque half-volley that went straight into the right corner. Fire goalie Sean Johnson had no chance.
The Crew were able to level the score at two goals a piece in the 79th minute. Jeff Cunningham’s cross was not cleared properly by the Chicago defense, and Dilly Duka got to the loose ball and rifled home a close range shot.
However, it only took one minute for the Fire to retake the lead. Dominic Oduro received a through ball near half-field. He proceeded to dribble all the way into the box, but his right-footed shot was saved by Hesmer. Unfortunately for Columbus, the rebound fell directly to Diego Chaves, who repositioned himself to tap the ball into the net.
The Crew continue their season on Thursday night, when they travel to Colorado to take on the Rapids at 10:00 pm. The forecast is predicting snow, but Columbus won’t care about the weather. They will be too focused on gaining revenge for their playoff exit at the hands of the Rapids last season.
Columbus Crew – William Hesmer, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner (Jeff Cunningham 65), Kevin Burns (Robbie Rogers 39), Eddie Gaven, Emmanuel Ekpo, Dilly Duka, Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann 79), Emilio Renteria.
Chicago Fire – Sean Johnson, Dan Gargan, Jalil Anibaba, Cory Gibbs, Gonzalo Segares, Patrick Nyarko, Logan Pause, Pavel Pardo, Marco Pappa (Baggio Husidic 89), Diego Chaves (Orr Barouch 87), Dominic Oduro (Daniel Paladini 89).