COLUMBUS, Ohio - For the first time since their 3-0-0 beginning to the season, the Columbus Crew looked like an MLS power Saturday night, throttling red-hot visitors LA Galaxy, 4-1.
The win brought the Crew (7-8-9) back into the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, while it marked just the second loss in 14 matches for the 9-5-7 Galaxy.
Proceedings began with civility, as the Crew recognized Landon Donovan for his USMNT and club accomplishments. But when the ceremony was over and the pictures were taken, the match erupted.
Both teams emphasized attack from the first minute. While Columbus and LA usually enjoy possession and passing, the match quickly became a track meet dominated by long passes and through balls.
The Galaxy seemed to have the better of the chances at the beginning half, but Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark made several key saves to deny what seemed an inevitable first goal from LA.
After some sustained Galaxy pressure, Crew midfielder Justin Meram opened scoring with a 23rd minute golazo. After gathering a pass from Tony Tchani near the top of the penalty box, Meram spun to avoid two Galaxy defenders and unleashed a curling blast past Galaxy keeper Jaime Penedo.
The Crew added another in the 33rd minute, with Meram again at the heart of the action. Allowed way too much space by the Galaxy defense in the midfield, he feigned a shot as he neared the top of the box and found a slashing Ethan Finlay, whose shot off the underside of the crossbar left Penedo no chance.
The Galaxy got back into the game shortly after the break when Dan Gargan’s cross from the right wing landed perfectly on the foot of Gyasi Zardes. The 22 year-old striker showed great technique to side volley the cross first time low into the corner past a diving Clark.
As the Galaxy pressed for an equalizer, they became exposed on the counter. Columbus made them pay with late goals from Ben Speas and Giancarlo Gonzalez, capping the highest scoring game for the Crew this season.
Columbus Crew 4, LA Galaxy 1
Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014 – 4:30 p.m. PT
MLS Regular Season
Columbus Crew Stadium – Columbus, Ohio.
CLB – Justin Meram (Assisted by Tony Tchani) 24
CLB – Ethan Finley (Assisted by Justin Meram) 33’
LA – Gyasi Zardes (Assisted by Robbie Keane and Dan Gargan) 49’
CLB – Ben Speas (Assisted by Ethan Finlay) 75’
CLB – Giancarlo Gonzalez (Assisted by Federico Higuain) 84’
LA Galaxy: Jaime Penedo; Dan Gargan (Todd Dunivant 85’), Omar Gonzalez, A.J. DeLaGarza, Robbie Rogers (Baggio Husidic 64’); Marcelo Sarvas, Juninho, Stefan Ishizaki, (Alan Gordon 71’), Landon Donovan; Robbie Keane ©, Gyasi Zardes,
Substitutes Not Used: Brian Rowe, Leonardo, Raul Mendiola, Charlie Rugg.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17; SHOTS ON GOAL: 5; FOULS: 4; OFFSIDE: 4; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 7.
Columbus Crew: Steve Clark, Eric Gehri, Waylon Francis, Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Justin Meram (Ben Speas 74’), Federico Higuain (Kevan George 88’), Tony Tchani, Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay, Adam Bedell (Aaron Schoenfeld 63’).
Substitutes Not Used: Matt Lampson, Tyson Wahl, Chad Barson, Jairo Arrieta.
TOTAL SHOTS: 21; SHOTS ON GOAL: 12; FOULS: 7; OFFSIDE: 1; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4.
Referee: Armando Villarreal
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Parker and Adam Garner
4th Official: Sorin Stoica.