Crew fans turned out tonight in droves to the stadium to support their team and the Columbus Crew gave their owner something to think about tonight when they dismantled New York City four to one in a game of two halves. Ola Kamara, Artur, Justin Meram and HArrison Afful sent daggers into the net and set the crew on a curse to clinch a spot in the eastern Finals on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. David Villa game NYCFC some hope scoring one away goal while the team was reduced to ten men.
It was truly a game that changed at the half. New York city looked stronger at the start but Columbus was on point and ready to play, scoring their first goal against the run of play six minutes in. NYCFC squandered several good chances in a wide open first half of play. Davis Villa came close to equalizing in the 37th minute after a wonderful move and run into the box with a shot that beat Zach Steffen but hit the post. The referee was allowing players to play aggressively and did not make many calls.
The second half was a different story. The teams made no changes but the referees did. In a bizarre turn of events the on field referee who started the match, Alan Kelly, took ill and was replaced by the fourth official, Ismail Elfath. Then came the play of the match. The play of the match was not one of the four quality strikes from Columbus or the beautiful shot by David Villa. The play of the match hinged around a VAR call by a substitute referee in the 52nd minute of the match sending Alexander Callens off the pitch with a straight red card for an elbow to the face of Meram. The foul had been called just a foul initially but after a lengthy VAR review, called and reviewed by Elfath himself since there was no fourth official anymore, Callens was given a direct red for the elbow. NYCFC was down to ten men and Columbus soon capitalised.
NYCFC did not hold back and try to manage the damage but pushed forward for the equalizer leaving their back line exposed. A slip and a give away by Alexander Ring was all it took for Artur to deftly score the second goal. Justin Meram made it worse for NYCFC in the 69th minute with a goal of his own. After the insertion of Andraz Struna injected some life back to their attack, Villa gave a ray of light to NYCFC with a beautiful one touch shot to score with twelve minutes remaining only to have hopes dashed again when Harrison Afful danced past 5 defenders and sealed the deal for the Crew with a well placed goal in stoppage time.
Things look bright for the Crew and bleak for NYCFC heading into Sunday’s Match up NYCFC need to win by three goals to advance and the crew can park the bus and limit the chances. Because of the Red card Callens cannot be used for the match and NYCFC will have to work hard not to give up a goal of their own. It is a hard task, but this is soccer and this is the MLS so anything can happen Sunday. NYCFC will need all the home field advantage they can get.