Any chance you have to bury a playoff rival further down the standings, you have to do it, even it is a slow brutal one.
The Columbus Crew outlasted the Philadelphia Union, 1-0, on Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium in a contest that ranks toward the bottom of the most exciting matches of the season.
Justin Meram scored the lone goal of the contest on a deflection off the boot of Josh Yaro in the 65th minute to create plenty of space between the Crew and Union in the Eastern Conference standings.
Outside of John McCarthy’s fifth-minute save at the left post, very little was produced in terms of chances between the two teams fighting to get over the red line into sixth place in the East.
The Union were unable to break into the final third at all with a depleted squad that was without C.J. Sapong, Fafa Picault, Roland Alberg and Chris Pontius. Jim Curtin’s men totaled zero shots on goal in a game they needed to find a result out of.
Meram produced a small burst of excitement in the 65th minute, as he easily got past Giliano Wijnaldum on the right wing and sent his shot into the middle of the penalty area. The ball deflected off the open boot of Yaro and past a flatfooted McCarthy.
The final 25 minutes weren’t anywhere close to riveting as the Crew comfortably held on to their advantage and the Union sluggishly passed back into their own half instead of pushing forward for an equalizer.
The two teams will be back at it on Wednesday night at Talen Energy Stadium for the second leg of a home-and-home series. It is the only midweek game in MLS next week.
Man of the Match
Meram produced a few bursts of quality on the wing during his time on the field, and he took advantage of lackluster defending to create a scoring opportunity in the 65th minute.
Moment of the Match
The only notable moment of the Eastern Conference matchup was Meram’s game-winner.
Match to Forget
Everyone in the Union squad could fall under this banner, with the exception of McCarthy, but Wijnaldum and Ray Gaddis were especially awful on the defensive flanks.