The Columbus Crew lost their second consecutive game on Wednesday night, dropping a 1-0 decision in Houston. Will Bruin scored the game's only goal, looping a header over Steve Clark in the 50th minute while the Crew struggled through yet another punchless offensive display. The team has now gone winless in their last six games, and hold a 3-3-3 record.
Coming into the game one of the questions among team observers centered on who would replace the suspended Wil Trapp at holding midfielder. While coach Gregg Berhalter told the league website that there was no "like for like" replacement in all of Major League Soccer, Tony Tchani - Trapp's usual partner - put in a creditable performance. Tchani finished the game with the most completed passes of any player on the field, stepping into the linking role without too much difficulty. Agustin Viana saw his first action of the season in the other holding midfield role, combining with Tchani with moderate success.
The biggest challenge facing the team is currently their lack of offensive punch. Wednesday saw Jairo Arrieta start at forward with Dominic Oduro on the right flank. Bernardo Anor was nominally on the left, but floated through midfield for periods of the game. Columbus were able to find space in the attacking third, but only rarely challenged Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall.
The Crew's best scoring chance came late in the second half when substitute Justin Meram dribbled up the throat of the Dynamo defense - but his low shot from outside the penalty area caromed off the base of the left post and back into play. Arrieta led the team with five shots, including one in the 25th minute that was spilled by Hall but recovered before Higuain could pounce on the ball. Arrieta had another shot saved on the hour mark when he chested a feed from Higuain and quickly shot on the turn, but again Hall made the save.
While Columbus had several scoring chances saved or wasted, Houston converted a free kick just into the second half for the game's only goal. After Corey Ashe was fouled at the top of the right defensive channel, Brad Davis drove the free kick toward the near post. Will Bruin found space between Viana and Anor, leaping highest and meeting the ball - which took a fortunate bounce off his shoulder blade and looped high over Steve Clark before settling into the far side netting.
Daniel Paladini made his season debut in the 65th minute, replacing Agustin Viana. Justin Meram, the Crew's most active substitute, took over for Dominic Oduro on the right flank in the 69th minute. Towering forward Adam Bedell also saw late action in relief of Josh Williams.
Columbus will return to action this Saturday when they host Vancouver at Columbus Crew Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 PM.
Timeline of Events
5' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed clear)
8' Corner kick, Houston (left side - headed clear)
12' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed over the crossbar)
28' Corner kick, Houston (left side - out for throw-in)
30' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - save by Tally Hall)
37' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed but no not taken)
48' Corner kick, Houston (right side - cleared)
50' 0-1 Will Bruin (Brad Davis)
58' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - cleared)
58' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed shot blocked)
60' Caution, Bernardo Anor (repeated infringement)
61' Warren Creavalle replaces Brad Davis
61' Caution, Federico Higuain (foul tackle on Oscar Boniek Garcia)
62' Corner kick, Houston (right side - headed clear)
65' Dan Paladini replaces Agustin Viana
69' Justin Meram replaces Dominic Oduro
71' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - headed clear)
74' Mark Sherrod replaces Will Bruin
77' Adam Bedell replaces Josh Williams
77' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - cleared)
80' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - ball cleared)
80' Caution, Dan Paladini (reckless tackle on Giles Barnes)
85' Omar Cummings replaces Oscar Boniek Garcia
87' Caution, Warren Creavalle
Steve Clark, Josh Williams (Adam Bedell 77'), Giancarlo Gonzalez, Michael Parkhurst, Waylon Franics, Agustin Viana (Dan Paladini 65'), Tony Tchani, Dominic Oduro (Justin Meram 69'), Federico Higuain, Bernardo Anor, Jairo Arrieta
Matt Lampson, Tyson Wahl, Eric Gehrig, Ethan Finlay
Tally Hall, Corey Ashe, A.J. Cochran, David Horst, Kofi Sarkodie, Servando Carrasco, Andrew Driver, Oscar Boniek Garcia (Omar Cummings 85'), Brad Davis (Warren Creavalle 61'), Will Bruin (Mark Sherrod 74'), Giles Barnes
Tyler Deric, Brian Ownby, Anthony Arena, Alexander Lopez