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Going into the Saturday night game in New England, the black and gold had to win their final two games of the season (both against the New England Revolution) and hope for results in other places around the MLS to go in their favor. The Revolution themselves were still vying for a playoff spot coming into the season ending home and home only 1 point behind 5th place in the Eastern Conference. The Crew was 4 points below New England and without talisman Federico Higuain. Pipa picked up a hip injury in the game against Kansas City and was ruled out for the match. Without him, the Crew looked to Dominic Oduro and Jairo Arrieta to lead the line and get the balls in the back of the net.
The first half was back and forth, with little invention from either team. The home side was able to take the lead though, through an A.J. Soares flicked header in the 32nd minute. Going down a goal seemed to put the Crew on the back foot for the remaining period of the first half, but the halftime interval brought them some renewed confidence. Knowing that they needed a win, Columbus came out in the second with a improved sense of hope. Aaron Schoenfeld came on in the second half and made a huge difference. His lay off to Oduro around the hour mark was superb and allowed the Ghanaian to finish into the roof of Matt Reis’ net to level it up. The Revolution went ahead again in the 69th minute when Tony Tchani fouled Andy Dorman in the box to concede a penalty. The game picked up into gear after that, both teams knowing that they really need a win to keep their perspective playoff hopes alive, and the Crew came back to level it up again only a minute later through Schoenfeld. The roles were reversed from the first Crew goal, with Oduro setting up the 23 year old American to score. The Crew started pouring men forward in the hopes of collecting all 3 points, but it was not to be. The Revolution finally got the 3rd and decisive goal from Diego Fagundez and the match was decided. The Columbus Crew is officially eliminated from playoff contention.
It was a great game for the neutrals in the end, with both teams piling men forward in the second half in search of the winner, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow for the Columbus faithful. The loss means a second straight year of missing the playoffs, and another year of missed opportunities. The Crew plays the Revolution again next weekend at home for the final game of the season. It’s been a great year, and a tough year, for many reasons but the players put everything they had out on that New England pitch and you can’t do anything other than be appreciative. Perhaps the mid-season coaching change was tough to recover from, but with the new ownership looking to at positive building of the team, this season can definitely be a platform for bigger and better things next year. The phrase “There’s nowhere to go but up” has been muttered a lot in reference to the Crew in recent years, but there’s a lot of reason to believe that it’s even more true this offseason and into next season.
Stay Massive Columbus.