Columbus, OH (SportsNetwork.com) – The New England Revolution took a major
step toward booking a spot in the Eastern Conference finals by collecting a
4-2 win over the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium on Saturday.
Major League Soccer instituted a rule change prior to the season that allowed
away goals to act as the tie-breaker in aggregate scoring during the playoffs,
and the Revs took advantage on Saturday by notching four goals in the first
leg to put Columbus in a precarious position.
The Crew must score at least three goals in the return match at Gillette
Stadium on Nov. 9 in order to have any hope of going through to the next
Columbus came close to opening the scoring in Saturday’s affair as Justin
Meram smashed a 29th-minute shot off the crossbar from a tough angle.
New England managed to escape the danger before grabbing the lead five minutes
later when Charlie Davies got on the end of Kelyn Rowe’s free kick to nod a
shot past Steve Clark with a diving header.
The Revs added to the lead less than six minutes into the second half when
Chris Tierney curled a superb free kick over the wall and into the upper
corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Columbus pulled one back in the 64th minute when an unmarked Meram pounced on
a loose ball in the box and fired a right-footed shot past Bobby Shuttleworth.
New England, though, would seize control of the tie by adding two goals in the
span of eight minutes.
Lee Nguyen continued his sensational season by taking a pass from Jermaine
Jones in the 70th minute and going the distance before slotting a shot past
Davies tacked on a fourth shortly after by drifting inside from the left flank
and curling a shot off the far post and into the back of the net.
Columbus managed to get another in stoppage time after a Jose Goncalves hand
ball in the box resulted in a Federico Higuain penalty, but New England’s four
away goals leave the Revs in a strong position to advance.