In its biggest game of the season to date, the Columbus Crew produced a massive 1-0 win over Inter Miami CF on Wednesday night at Lower.com Field, strengthening the club’s case to make the playoffs.
There’s no time to celebrate, though. A bigger match is scheduled for Saturday night.
Good teams play meaningful games late in the year, and that’s the situation the Black & Gold find themselves in. It’s both a privilege and a challenge – and it’s something the club is relishing.
Entering the midweek match with Miami, the clubs were level on 36 points, but Miami was ranked one seed higher because of its total wins. But with the Crew’s 1-0 win, Columbus moved to sixth in the Eastern Conference and now has a four-point buffer with No. 8 FC Cincinnati, which is on the outside looking in with 35 points.
“This time of year, the best teams – teams that are chasing hardware – come through and get the job done and take care of business, and we want to be one of those teams,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the win. “I talked about how it didn't need to be perfect, as long as we had guys that were rolling their sleeves up and working hard and you know, trying to win, right? Playing to win. I thought they did that today, and it took a goal from Luis (Díaz) which was great to see.”
Díaz produced the game-winning goal in the 64th minute during a brilliant sequence of Crew possession. After working the ball around the back, Steven Moreira, who scored the equalizer on Sunday in Cincinnati, played a through ball through the Miami press down the right wing to Díaz, who dribbled in on goal and slotted the ball past Miami goalkeeper Nick Marsman.
It was an efficient and deserving goal for the Costa Rican winger, who’s delivered influential performances in recent weeks but hadn’t scored since the season opener in February.
Playing without Lucas Zelarayán, who was a late scratch during warmups, Porter implemented a 4-3-3 with Aidan Morris, Darlington Nagbe and Artur in the midfield. But even without the Armenian international, the Crew was able to generate attacking opportunities, but more importantly, help the backline and goalkeeper Eloy Room earn a clean sheet.
“I loved the entire team effort today, and I really liked the clean sheet,” Porter said. “I liked that we had a gutsy 1-0 win, because often times, at the end of the year – and certainly playoffs – this game is decided by one goal. If we can get into a rhythm of defending well, finding goals, outworking the opponent, which I thought we did today. (Inter Miami is) a good team, but I thought we were deserved winners today.”
With the win, the Crew remains unbeaten in 14 of the club’s last 15 games, including five straight. Up next is another massive home matchup on Saturday night, when Columbus hosts rivals Chicago Fire FC.
The Fire is 13th in the Eastern Conference, which means the Crew could be in position to win two-straight at Lower.com Field before a rematch with CF Montréal next Wednesday in Canada.
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