Diego Fagundez First Half Brace Stuns Columbus Crew SC in 2-1 Defeat

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A breakout performance from Diego Fagundez led to dropped points for Columbus Crew SC.

The New England Revolution attacking midfielder scored two first half goals which turned out to be the difference as his side upended Columbus, 2-1. It marked the first win for the Revs in the series since a 3-1 triumph in Foxborough on July 9, 2016.

Diego Fagundez First Half Brace Stuns Columbus Crew SC in 2-1 Defeat

Formation

Manager Gregg Berhalter made three changes to the starting XI from last week’s 3-2 win over Montreal. Ola Kamara returned after coming on as a late sub against the Impact. Mohammed Abu was slotted in alongside Wil Trapp in defensive midfield. And Waylon Francis made his fourth start of the year at left back in place of Jukka Raitala.

Kekuta Manneh started for the second straight game in place of Ethan Finlay who continues to recuperate from a left knee contusion. Also absent from the squad altogether despite not being on the injury report were Artur and Harrison Afful. The former went the full 90 minutes against Montreal last week.

First Half

Crew SC excelled at controlling the tempo of the game early on. Over the first 20 minutes, Columbus enjoyed over 60 percent possession and put seven shots at goal. Two of those forced saves out of Revs goalkeeper Cody Cropper.

But in the 19th minute, the Black and Gold found the breakthrough via Kamara. The Norwegian center forward blasted the ball at goal on the full volley off a long ball from Trapp. The shot beat Cropper far post to give Columbus the lead and fans a Goal of the Week candidate to vote on.

For Trapp, it marked his first assist of 2017 and the tenth of his career.

Three minutes later, Kamara nearly doubled Crew SC’s advantage. He found himself wide open in front of goal with a well-placed Manneh square ball from the right coming right towards him. However, it squirted underneath his feet and trickled harmlessly away.

The visiting side would rue that missed opportunity almost immediately.

In minute 24, the Revs Kelyn Rowe dispossessed Trapp around the midfield stripe. It led to a counterattack which saw Lee Nguyen pass the ball out right to Kei Kamara at the top of the box. The former Crew SC player then slotted it towards Diego Fagundez who placed it past Zack Steffen after a brilliant near post run.

Fagundez’s 2017 campaign got off to a quiet start with him managing no goals over his first ten appearances. But he found the net once during last week’s 4-0 rout of Real Salt Lake. And Sunday demonstrated he remains one of the Revs most potent weapons in attack.

Ten minutes after his initial strike, he netted another.

It came via some dynamic movement from Kamara who drew Crew SC center back Nicolai Naess high up the field. Not only did it adversely affect Columbus’ defensive shape, it opened up a wide channel down the left for Fagundez to dribble towards. He made no mistake knocking it by Steffen for his brace.

Second Half

Crew SC spent the entirety of the second half in search of an equalizer in order to salvage a draw. Opportunities came few and far between early on in the second stanza. But two late game substitutes had opportunities to even things up.

Adam Jahn, who entered the game in the 73rd minute in place of Abu, found himself with a scoring chance five minutes later. After Justin Meram blocked an attempted Andrew Farrell clearance, Jahn collected the ball and dribbled towards goal. But his shot went right at Cropper who routinely parried it away.

Later on, Jukka Raitala tried to give his team a late lifeline. The Finnish fullback, who came on for Hector Jimenez in the 62nd minute, made an inside run and collected a pinpoint diagonal ball from Higuain. But his low, near post shot didn’t pack much velocity and Cropper collected it fairly easily.

Those were the only shots on target for Crew SC in the final 45. They finished with five attempts in total during the second half compared to New England’s four. For the game, they led in the shot category by a 14-9 mark.

The match received some late fireworks after Revs right back Farrell went in studs up on Francis in second half stoppage time. The foul resulted in a straight red from referee Alan Kelly. But nothing amounted from the resulting free kick and not long thereafter, the final whistle blew.

In the end, the Black and Gold are left wondering what could’ve been had Kamara converted what looked to be a fairly easy chance. It certainly comes across as a missed sitter in retrospect.

After an extra day to prepare this week, Crew SC has one day less to get ready for their next encounter. It takes place this coming Friday against Toronto FC, the conclusion of a three-game road stand. The match kicks off at 7 PM ET.