Saturday night gave Columbus the opportunity snatch momentum and ride it all the way into the playoffs.
They took advantage of that opportunity for exactly 65 minutes. Jairo Arrieta torched a very underwhelming Philadelphia back line for two goals in the first 50 minutes of the match. But in the 64th minute Andy Gruenebaum received a yellow card for a poor attempt at a save and failed to stop the corresponding penalty kick. The Columbus defense would concede a second goal before Milovan Mirosevic fooled an out of position linesman into thinking he was onside and scoring the the winner just before the final whistle.
It was really a tale of two halves for Columbus. In the first half they looked like they fully understood the opportunity presented to them and took full advantage. But midway through the second half, the wheels came off and we saw the defense exposed for what truly is: dreadful. As if blowing a two goal lead wasn’t bad enough, the winning goal was the result of a horrendous non-call. The Crew got three points, but it hardly felt like a victory when the final whistle blew.
Fortunately for Columbus, they have an extra day off this week. The Crew will host Sporting KC on Sunday afternoon at 4. KC know they will make the playoffs, but they do still have a shot at the Supporters Shield so they won’t be totally relaxed in this one. Still, Columbus have a lot more riding on the line when these two clash this weekend. The extra day off will be huge as Jairo Arrieta had to leave the match earlier than expected with a slight injury. He should be fine, but every day off counts at this point.
Bottom line: Columbus got the three points it so desperately needed; even if it didn’t feel like it. I think the players have put the game completely behind them and are ready to go for Sunday. The Crew are currently one point behind Houston for the last Eastern Conference playoff spot and three behind DC United for fourth place. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can see that Columbus are just five points behind New York and Chicago for second place!
So here’s to a truly MASSIVE run to the playoffs! As MLS (and the NFL and MLB) have shown us: all you have to do is get in. Then anything can happen…