Match Recap: Crew 3, Union 2

Union bravely bow out of playoff race

The Philadelphia Union’s bid to remain in post-season contention came to a heartbreaking end at Crew Stadium on Saturday evening as John Hackworth’s side bravely battled back from two down before falling 3-2 to a contentious late winner.

Milovan Mirosevic’s 87th minute goal for Columbus Crew – just seconds after Jack McInerney’s equalizer – was enough to kill off what promised to be a grandstand finish by the Union, but the midfielder looked to be a yard offside as he turned to end the visitors’ rousing fightback.

Team manager Hackworth made a solitary change to the side which swept aside playoff-chasing Houston Dynamo 3-1 at PPL Park last Sunday. Gabriel Farfan came in at left midfield as brother Michael Farfan was reshuffled to the supporting role behind striker Josué Martinez; a position left vacant by Freddy Adu who missed out as a precaution following a thigh injury.

The impressive backline from that victory was maintained, however; Sheanon Williams operating at left back as rookie right back Raymon Gaddis – fresh from a superb performance in the win over Dynamo – kept his place.

The first major test for that defensive unit came in the 20th minute courtesy of a rapid Crew counter attack; Eddie Gaven picking up the ball from a cleared Union corner before going solo on a lung-bursting box-to-box run and planting the ball at the feet of Zac MacMath.

The Union responded through a familiar outlet as Danny Cruz continued to find space out wide. The combative winger did well to nudge the ball clear on the right flank 28 minutes in, delivering a threatening low cross which Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum bravely claimed at the feet of Josué Martinez.

With both sides’ dangerous-looking attacking units nullified by well-organized defenses, they would continue to trade blows without success for the vast majority of the opening half.

First Crew midfielder Chris Birchall edged past Sheanon Williams to fire at goal – Zac MacMath making an excellent block on the deflected effort – before the Union’s Michael Farfan jinked his way into the hosts’ box only to see the ball ricochet inches past Gruenebaum’s right-hand post.

But the opening goal did come in the half’s critical final exchanges. Sebastian Miranda angled a long ball in from the right in the 45th minute and with Amobi Okugo struggling to intercept, Jairo Arrieta took the ball down before crashing the ball into the back of the net at MacMath’s near post.

And the lead was doubled deep into first half injury time as Arrieta claimed a second; keeper Andy Guenebaum also claiming the first assist of his career. The 29 year-old’s long kick was gathered by Arrieta in the Union half and the Costa Rican striker worked the ball through the inside left channel of the box before sending a fine finish across MacMath which nestled in the bottom right corner.

 

HALF TIME: Columbus Crew 2-0 Philadelphia Union

 

Typical of the Union’s never-say-die attitude, Hackworth’s men would dig deep in the second half to claw their way back into the game.

The coach replaced striker Martinez with Antoine Hoppenot shortly before the hour mark and it would quickly pay dividends as the sub was sent sprawling by Gruenebaum after making a superb attacking run.

Referee Matthew Foerster had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot and up stepped Danny Cruz to hold his nerve, slamming the ball convincingly into the bottom left corner as Gruenebaum went the other way.

The goal would open the game up palpably; the Union sensing a chance to restore parity – and perhaps more – while the Crew looked to restore the comfort of a two-goal cushion.

The visitors looked like they would have an excellent chance to swing the game their way ten minutes later when Hoppenot again went tumbling into the box under Julius James’ challenge but referee Foerster dismissed appeals for a second spot kick with the alleged offense possibly taking place outside of the area.

But they did find the leveler with four minutes left as another substitute made a dramatic impact. Jack McInerney steered the ball high into the Crew goal via the left post with the goalkeeper stranded as Philadelphia seized momentum, knowing no less than three points would be required to remain in the Playoff hunt.

That momentum would be cruelly short-lived, however, as a defensive clearance just seconds after the restart found the sliding challenge of Josh Williams; the ball cannoning to the feet of Mirosevic who fired past MacMath to steal the game as the linesman’s flag stayed fatefully down.

 

FULL TIME: Columbus Crew 3-2 Philadelphia Union

ATTENDANCE: 14,673.

 

GOAL SUMMARY

COLUMBUS CREW                                                             

Jairo Arrieta, 44; 45+5.

Milovan Mirosevic, 87.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Danny Cruz, 65 (pen)

PHI—Jack McInerney 5 (Roger Torres 2)  86LINEUPS:

Columbus Crew starting XI: Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall (c), Julius James (Eric Gehrig, 80), Josh Williams, Eddie Gaven (Justin Meram, 86), Milovan Mirosevic, Danny O’Rourke, Chris Birchall, Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta (Emilio Renteria, 66).

Subs not used: Matt Lampson, Nemajna Vukovic, Tony Tchani, Olman Vargas.

Philadelphia Union starting XI: Zac MacMath, Raymon Gaddis, Sheanon Williams, Amobi Okugo, Carlos Valdés (c), Brian Carroll, Michael Lahoud, Danny Cruz (Roger Torres, 81), Gabriel Farfan (Jack McInerney, 66), Michael Farfan, Josué Martinez (Antoine Hoppenot, 57).

Subs not used: Chris Konopka, Chris Albright, Gabriel Gómez, Chandler Hoffman.

 

GAME AT A GLANCE:

 

 

COLUMBUS CREW

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Goals

3

2

Attempts on goal

17

15

Shots on target

11

3

Shots off target

6

10

Possession

43.2%

56.8%

Corners

2

8

Fouls

14

11

Offsides

4

2

Total passes

336

432

Passing accuracy

74.4%

79.2%

Yellow cards

2

1

Red cards

0

0

 

CARD SUMMARY:

 

COLUMBUS CREW                                              

Yellow:

Danny O’Rourke, 61.

Andy Gruenebaum, 64.

PHILADELPHIA UNION

Yellow:

Amobi Okugo, 45+3.