Bernardo Anor scored two goals as the Columbus Crew defeated the Philadelphia Union 2-1 on Saturday evening. Columbus had to hold off a series of Philadelphia attacks, and benefit from some fortunate goalkeeping, to start the young season 2-0 for the first time in team history.
The question for Crew fans heading into Saturday's home opener was whether the team would be able to repeat their commanding performance from the season opener two weeks ago. DC United, after all, was coming off one of the worst seasons in league history. This weekend's performance - against a much more skilled Union team featuring US international Maurice Edu - should strengthen the sense of hope among the Crew fan base.
Bernardo Anor scored twice in the first half, starting in the 24th minute when he skillfully avoided the attentions of Sebastien Le Toux to convert a corner kick from Federico Higuain. He then doubled the advantage in first half stoppage time, unleashing a long range blast that dumbfounded goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
While the halftime score line read 2-0, it was not for lack of chances from the visiting Union. Jack McInerney, Sebastien Le Toux, and Vincent Nogueira each had clear scoring chances, but Le Toux and Nogueira were desperately unlucky that their shots missed the far post. McInerney had several opportunities throughout the night, but was undone by indecisiveness and resolute defending from Giancarlo Gonzalez.
Throughout the second half the Union continued to put the Crew under pressure - particularly after the ineffective Cristian Maidana was replaced by Leo Fernandes. In fact it was Fernandes who pulled Philadelphia back into contention. A series of poor decisions from Crew defenders gifted an easy ball to Le Toux to the left of the Crew goal, and his cross to Fernandes allowed a relatively easy finish from close range.
Columbus attempted to counter with the insertion of Dominic Oduro in the 66th minute, but last year's leading scorer showed signs of rust with what few chances the team could create for him. The most frustrating, with 15 minutes to play, came when a cross by Hector Jimenez inexplicably made it past Aaron Wheeler only to carom off Oduro's plant foot directly in front of goal.
Philadelphia's last chance of the game came in the 89th minute as Antoine Hoppenot battled through several Columbus challenges down the right side. His ball across the face of goal, however, was just too far in front of Aaron Wheeler's outstretched toe.
With the victory, the team improve to 2-0-0. Incredibly, this is the first such start in the team's 19-year history. They will attempt to win their third straight game next Saturday in Seattle.