COLUMBUS, Ohio – Federico Higuaín continued to give Columbus a charge, this time in his home debut, as the Crew defeated Toronto FC 2-1 on Wednesday evening.
Higuaín, the Argentine attacker who tallied an assist off the bench in his first match with the Crew on Sunday at Houston, set up Eddie Gaven in the fourth minute and scored in the 58th for a 2-0 lead before Luis Silva netted for Toronto in the 71st.
The Crew (9-8-6, 33 points) ended a three-game winless streak while TFC (5-15-5, 20 points) fell to 0-4-1 in the past five games.
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The Crew’s second goal showed why the team had pursued Higuaín for almost a year to be their third Designated Player in club history, with the Argentine capping a neat string of passes inside the area with a calmly-taken finish from near the penalty spot.
But Toronto regained the momentum and pulled to within one with recently-acquired Eric Hassli figuring again, tallying his second assist in TFC colors. He picked up a header from Quincy Amarikwa sliced the Crew defense with a weighted ball that Silva ran onto finished past Andy Gruenebaum.
That would be it for the Reds though, and the Crew captured the Trillium Cup – contested annually between the two teams – after claiming the first two games of the season sereis.
The win came in large part thanks to Higuaín's impact from the start, as his interplay with Gaven was successful for the second time in as many games. The Argentine surged down the left flank and patiently waited for numbers to arrive before finding Gaven, whose blast from outside the area took a deflection and nestled in the back of the net.
The goal was Gaven's team-best sixth of the season, while it was a second assist in as many games in Crew colors for Higuaín. It was the Crew’s quickest goal of the season, besting Gaven’s ninth-minute tally on May 26 vs. Chicago.
There was little for either ‘keeper to do the rest of the half as both teams were unable to break through following the initial salvo. The best threat came in the 32nd minute when the Crew’s Emilio Rentería sent a cross into the box that was out of the reach of an onrushing Jairo Arrieta at the far post.
The Crew's Chris Birchall hit the post in the second half after a well-worked move left him with acres of space to fire from outside the area, only to see the ball carom off the woodwork, representing the best chance either side had apart from the three goals.
The match, originally slated for Aug. 5, was rescheduled due to the passing of Crew midfielder Kirk Urso, and both teams will face a quick turnaround, returning to action on Saturday. The Reds will travel to Houston while the Crew play host to New England.
4' Columbus - Eddie Gaven
58' Columbus - Federico Higuain
71' Toronto - Luis Silva
20' Columbus - Federico Higuain (caution)
69' Toronto - Darren O'Dea (caution)
90+3' Toronto - Ashtone Morgan (caution)
Columbus - Andy Gruenebaum; Carlos Mendes, Sebastian Miranda (Julius James 79'), Chad Marshall, Josh Williams; Chris Birchall, Milovan Mirosevic (Danny O'Rourke 75'), Eddie Gaven, Federico Higuain (Cole Grossman 76'); Emilio Renteria, Jairo Arrieta ... Substitutes not used: Matt Lampson; Dilly Duka, Tony Tchani, Justin Meram
Toronto - Freddy Hall; Richard Eckersley, Dicoy Williams (Aaron Maund 85'), Darren O'Dea, Ashtone Morgan; Andrew Wiedeman (Jeremy Hall 61'), Terry Dunfield, Torsten Frings (Quincy Amarikwa 71'), Ryan Johnson; Luis Silva, Eric Hassli ... Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic; Adrian Cann, Logan Emory, Eric Avila