|photo by Matt Kremkau
Sean Nealis' goal late in the match extended the Red Bulls to eight straight matches, and took a massive step toward the playoffs, beating the Columbus Crew SC, 2-1.
Head coach Gerhard Struber's game plan, other than his team to win their first match in Columbus in six years was to make the Crew uncomfortable right from the start. And just like a month ago, it paid off just seven minutes in. Off a corner kick, Tom Edwards served a great ball to Cristian Casseres who headed the ball in the net from close range to give the visitors the lead.
But then Columbus would respond in the 18th minute as Lucas Zelarayan's pass found an opening in the New York defense, and found Steven Moreira who then delivered a cross right to Miguel Berry at the center of the box to even the match at one.
In the 36th minute, the Red Bulls nearly took the lead when off another corner kick by Tom Edward for the head of Sean Nealis, but Dru Yearwood was whistled for a foul, negating the potential go-ahead goal.
The Red Bulls had to endure some dangerous scoring chances from the Crew, of which Carlos Coronel had to make a great save to deny Derrick Etienne a minute into stoppage time before the first half came to a close.
Wiki Carmona was inserted in the lineup in the second half to make an impact and he did just that in the 50th minute as he drew a penalty as Marlon Hariston fouled him in the box. However, Patryk Klimala badly missed the penalty kick as the shot was pulled wide to his left.
But in the 87th minute Nealis, who has kept his team in the match with a strong defensive effort, provided the game-winner as he took a header from Patryk Klimala and flicked the ball into the net to give the Red Bulls the lead for good, and delivering a crushing blow to the Crew.
The win was the first one in Columbus since 2015 and based on the results of the other matches in the Eastern Conference, the Red Bulls will enjoy this victory for knowing that while their objective is now in clear sight, the job is not yet done, they have a tougher match against their long-time rivals D.C. United on Wednesday night.
Columbus Crew SC: Eloy Room, Milton Valenzuela, Vito Wormgoor, Jonathan Mensah, Steven Moreira, Derrick Etienne, Jr. (Alexandru Matan, 73’), Marlon Hairston (Liam Fraser, 73’), Lucas Zelarayan, Darlington Nagbe, Pedro Santos (Bradley Wright-Phillips, 83’), Miguel Berry
New York Red Bulls: Carlos Coronel, Andrew Gutman, Sean Nealis, Andrés Reyes, Tom Edwards (Wiki Carmona, HT), Kyle Duncan, Sean Davis, Dru Yearwood, Cristian Cásseres, Jr. (Frankie Amaya, 90’+2), Fábio (John Tolkin, 77’), Patryk Klimala (Tom Barlow, 89’)
7' (New York Red Bulls) Cristian Casseres assisted by Tom Edwards
18' (Columbus Crew SC) Miguel Berry assisted by Lucas Zelarayan and Steven Moreira
87' (New York Red Bulls) Sean Nealis assisted by Patryk Klimala and Cristian Cásseres
16' (New York Red Bulls) Patryk Klimala - Yellow card
70' (New York Red Bulls) Dru Yearwood - Yellow card