Eddie Gaven’s 95th minute goal gave the 10-man Columbus Crew an almost unbelievable 2-1 victory against the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. The Union scored first, but Columbus equalized before the break. After a red card in the 68th minute, the Crew’s defense fought a bombardment of attacking play before stunning everyone with a late winner.
The win improves Columbus’ record to 11-8-6 (39 points). They are now only two points out of the last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. On the other hand, Philadelphia’s playoff hopes dashed. With ten games left in their season, the Union are 16 points away from the playoffs. Their record drops to 7-13-4 (25 points).
Both teams started in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Rookie Matt Lampson made his first ever MLS start in goal for Columbus, filling in for the injured Andy Gruenebaum. In front of him, Danny O’Rourke replaced the injured Carlos Mendes in the center of defense. Chris Birchall returned to his starting holding midfielder spot next to Milovan Mirosevic. Eddie Gaven, Dilly Duka, and Federico Higuain formed the attacking trio right behind Jairo Arrita.
In the 29th minute, Philly struck first. After a foul by Birchall, Carlos Valdes stepped up to take the free kick. His initial shot, heading toward the left post, took a deflection off the Crew’s wall, sending the ball in the other direction. Lampson was able to correct himself and dive back toward his left, but he only got fingertips on the ball as it went into the back of the net. Lampson did his absolute best, and the blame for a bad deflection can’t be placed on him. In fact, apart from unnecessarily coming off his line a few times, Lampson played a great game and helped Columbus win while also picking up four saves.
Federico Higuain, once again continuing to build his legend with the Crew after only a few games, wouldn’t have anything to do with a loss. In the 41st minute, Higuain’s free kick found Josh Williams, whose spinning header sent the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal. Williams has had numerous goals called back this season, and it was nice to see the defender finally officially open his MLS account.
Williams’ first professional goal will unfortunately be overlooked for what happened in the second half. Union midfielder Antoine Hoppenot approached Williams off the ball and said something to him that lead to Williams shoving Hoppenot. The assistant referee called the main official over, who then produced a red card to Williams. Hoppenot was only given a yellow card for his shove on Danny O’Rourke during the minor scuffle that occurred afterward.
Now up a man, Philadelphia pressed forward for the game-winning goal. The Crew did a great job resisting pressure, including Lampson who made a few crucial saves.
Solely counterattacking at this point, Higuain almost scored the winner for Columbus in the 94th minute. The Argentine got on the end a header in the box, controlled the ball, had his first shot saved, and sent his second attempt off the crossbar.
The chance seemed like it was the Crew’s only hope of leaving Pennsylvania with three points, but Higuain was not done yet. The little playmaker collected the ball in the attacking third and pointed to where he wanted substitute Justin Meram to make a run. Higuain’s through ball found Meram, whose left-footed shot was saved. Luckily for Columbus, the ball fell right to Eddie Gaven on the far post. Gaven simply passed the ball into the open net, securing a shocking comeback for the Crew and helping their playoff chances tenfold.