Victory against Montreal Impact was "ultra-critical" for late playoff push
After a 23rd minute Marco Di Vaio goal gave the Montreal Impact a lead over the Columbus Crew, the likely result was nothing more than a point for the traveling Crew.
But with two second-half goals off two Federico Higuain assists, Columbus notched their first victory of the season after conceding the first goal of the match, bringing the team back into the playoff mix with only five games remaining.
“When you're down in the standings, this was ultra-critical, I think, in our push to make a playoff spot,” interim head coach Brian Bliss said after the match. “We've put some pressure on some teams that are slightly above us, so it's uplifting in that regard.”
The team's first goal came on a Chad Marshall header, when he connected with Higuain's free kick, not allowing keeper Troy Perkins a chance at the save. Set-piece goals have always been a forte of the veteran Crew defender, but the 66th minute strike was his first of the season.
“It felt great,” Marshall said after the match. “I hadn't scored prior in the season. I've been unfortunate to have some line clearances and stuff, so it was obviously nice to get us back in the game and tie it up, especially because I had a part in their goal with a miscommunication with Matt [Lampson]. So it felt good to get that goal and get us back even.”
Bliss called the goal “uplifting” for the Crew, and 12 minutes later another sublime Higuain touch found the foot of Dominic Oduro, whose slight misdirection of the ball trickled into the back of Perkins's net, giving the Crew the lead they desperately needed. The game-winner was Oduro's 10th goal of the season, but his first since July 27, his longest drought of the season.
“[Marshall's] goal pumped me up," Oduro said after the match. "It was one of the goals that was a relief. We were doing the right thing, we were knocking on the door, and it was just a matter of when. I would give my goal for the team to get three points. That's exactly what we needed. I wouldn't say I got the monkey off my back, but it's something like that.”
The Crew have another chance to earn vital points toward their late postseason push when they host Eastern Conference foes the Chicago Fire next Saturday, September 21.
Andrew King covers the Columbus Crew for MLSsoccer.com.