By Nino Torres
All season long the Crew struggled to take the lead early at their home games. Not Saturday night. For the first time, they made the rival feel the pressure and dictated the pace of the game since the very beginning. Of course finding the back of the net early with goals from Ethan Finlay (10th minute) and Jairo Arrieta (25th minute) helped a lot to grab the first victory at home since March 22, when they defeated the Philadelphia Union, 2-1.
The Fire attempted to close the soccer circuits for Federico Higuaín, surrounding him with at least four players at times. But they were not close enough to him, they didn’t make him uncomfortable and he made the Fire pay. For his first assist of the game, the Argentine stayed calm and delivered a perfect service for Finlay, who broke free and finished effectively. For his second, he was on the run, and Arrieta overlapped him to receive a clear ball that he defined between Sean Johnson’s legs. Two chances, two conversions.
The inaccuracy this time played for the Fire. They finished the first half with five shots off target and only two that were controlled by Columbus goalie Steve Clark. The visitors felt the absence of Mike Magee on top. His replacement, the Ecuadorian Juan Luis Anangonó, had only two chances in the air, and Quincy Amarikwa couldn’t find the necessary spaces due to the effective work by Crew centerbacks Tyson Wahl and Eric Gherig.
In the second half with the two goal cushion, the home team took the foot off the accelerator and let the Fire dictate the pace. Benji Joya and Harrison Shipp tried to generate options for the Fire, but the anticipation from Columbus stopped them before they could get close to the box.
The Crew cooled off the Fire's intentions and cruised for the rest of the game with solid possession.
The Fire failed to get their third consecutive win against Columbus (they won their previous two, 1-0 at Toyota Park and 2-1 in Ohio last season). With the victory, the Crew not only stopped their winless streak at eight games, but they found a way to score and, most importantly, they managed the match to their advantage.