In the first leg of their two-leg series, the Crew topped the Supporters’ Shield-winning Red Bulls 1-0 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus. The two teams will meet again in the second leg at Red Bull Arena on Sunday, November 11.
Both teams had a handful of opportunities to scored in the first half, but neither could convert. With the game scoreless coming out of halftime, Crew head coach Greg Berhalter, a native of Englewood, NJ, made the most important decision of the match. He subbed on Federico Higuain.
In the 61st minute, the Argentine was at the heart of the Crew’s goal-scoring play. After taking a long pass from Milton Valenzuela, he neatly flicked a pass to a streaking Gyasi Zardes. Zardes one-timed a shot inside the near post to beat Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles.
New York had a chance to level the match and get an all-important away goal late. But Columbus keeper Zack Steffan got his fingertips on a low shot from Bradley Wright-Phillips to maintain the Crew’s lead.
The Red Bulls other big scoring opportunity came in the 27th minute. Off of a corner kick, Hicksville native Tim Parker’s header caromed off the near post and Steffen but did not find the back of the net.
“When we look at ourselves, that wasn’t our best,” said Robles. “The belief is high and the confidence is great that we’re going to do something special. We know we need to go back, regroup, and look at the video at how we can do things better.”