The Columbus Crew came from behind in Montreal on Saturday, defeating the Impact 2-1 behind two goals created by Federico Higuain. Chad Marshall scored the first on a free kick, while Dominic Oduro finished the second with a slight deflection.
Canadian opposition has proved to be relatively easy pickings for the Crew this season. The team defeated Toronto and Montreal twice en route to posting a 4-2-1 record against Canadian opponent.
Columbus started the game with a slight edge in possession over the first 15 minutes, but was unable to convert the early pressure into anything tangible. Instead, it was Montreal that opened the scoring.
Marco Di Vaio headed home from close range in the 23rd minute, converting a header from point blank range after losing Chad Barson and ghosting unnoticed behind Chad Marshall.
The goal noticeably deflated the Crew, and the team spent the balance of the first half on their back foot. Jeb Brovsky nearly doubled the Montreal advantage in stoppage time, but Matt Lampson was able to fall to his right and prevent Columbus from falling even farther behind.
Columbus began to find their way back into the game through the second half, and was given a huge boost when Marshall leveled terms in the 66th minute. Federico Higuain lofted a free kick toward the back post, where Marshall made amends for his earlier mistake by rising highest in a crowd. His powerful shot flew over Troy Perkins' outstretched hands and slid under the crossbar.
Both teams began making substitutions after the goal; Montreal made the first move when Andres Romero relieved Davy Arnaud, who had been involved in nearly every Montreal attack through that point. Columbus countered by sending Ethan Finlay on at right midfield, pushing Dominic Oduro up to the front line while Jairo Arrieta was benched.
This shift paid off in spades three minutes later. Federico Higuain poked the ball away from a Montreal defender and rounded into space off the left edge of the Impact back line. His pass into the near post found Oduro streaking past Alessandro Nesta, where the Ghanian got the slightest of touches past Troy Perkins.
With the lead improbably in their hands, the Crew were faced with the unlikely prospect of defending it - no small feat for a team that has conceded a third of its goals in the final 15 minutes of games. Montreal, however, was unable to meet the challenge and only rarely threatened Matt Lampson's goal in the closing quarter hour.
What it means
The victory bunches a quartet of teams within two points of each other in the Eastern Conference, with only a single postseason berth available. The other three teams - Chicago, Houston, and New England - all play later on Saturday, however, and have an additional game in hand on the Crew.
Columbus has five games remaining on the schedule, with their next coming at home to Chicago next weekend.
Timeline of events
10' Corner kick, Montreal (left side - headed out)
10' Corner kick, Montreal (right side - short, lost)
11' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - cleared)
11' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - foul called)
13' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - cleared)
18' Corner kick, Montreal (left side - cleared)
23' Corner kick, Montreal (left side - short, goal)
23' 0-1 Marco Di Vaio (Patrice Bernier, Hassoun Camara)
36' Corner kick, Montreal (left side - headed clear)
37' Corner kick, Montreal (left side - foul called)
59' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - headed out)
60' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - headed shot wide)
63' Caution, Tony Tchani (professional foul on Davy Arnaud)
66' 1-1 Chad Marshall (Federico Higuain)
71' Andres Romero replaces Davy Arnaud
74' Corner kick, Montreal (right side - headed clear)
74' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - off target, cleared)
75' Ethan Finlay replaces Jairo Arrieta
77' Caution, Felipe Martins (reckless tackle on Tony Tchani)
78' 2-1 Dominic Oduro (Federico Higuain)
80' Daniele Paponi replaces Felipe Martins
82' Sanna Nyassi replaces Collen Warner
84' Kevan George replaces Tony Tchani
86' Justin Meram replaces Bernardo Anor
94' Corner kick, Montreal (short, blocked)
94' Corner kick, Montreal (headed clear)
Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Tyson Wahl, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Wil Trapp, Dominic Oduro, Tony Tchani (Kevan George 84'), Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 86'), Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta (Ethan Finlay 75')
Daniel Withrow, Matias Sanchez, Ben Speas, Ryan Finley
Troy Perkins, Hassoun Camara, Alessandro Nesta, Matteo Ferrari, Jeb Brovsky, Collen Warner (Sanna Nyassi 82'), Patrice Bernier, Justin Mapp, Felipe Martins (Daniele Paponi 80'), Davy Arnaud (Andres Romero 71'), Marco Di Vaio
Evan Bush, Andrew Wenger, Wandrille Lefevre, Andrea Pisanu