The 29-year-old winger’s header in the 63rd minute proved to be the game-winner in a 2-1 win for the Black and Gold over New York City FC. It came a mere two minutes after Harrison Afful equalized with a brilliant strike from outside the box.
Justin Meram’s First Goal Since Returning to Columbus Crew SC Proves to Be Game-Winner in Comeback Win Over NYCFC
The result moved Columbus back into fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings. Prior to the finish of the game, the Philadelphia Union actually moved ahead of them as a result of their 2-2 draw with Orlando City SC. The two teams were tied on 40 points but Philly owned the wins tiebreaker.
Columbus controlled the tempo for a good portion of the game. Even in the first half, which ended scoreless, the Black and Gold enjoyed a 10-4 edge in total shots. That said, just 30 percent of them found their target compared to 75 percent for NYC in the first 45.
On the other side of halftime, Crew SC continued their dogged search of the opening goal. But after Pedro Santos lost the ball near NYC’s box, the road team commenced a counterattack. Midfielder Maxi Moralez, who’s fourth in chances created per 90 among MLS players with at least 1,500 minutes of game action, dribbled towards goal and found Anton Tinnerholm. The NYC right back then flicked it to Ismael Tajouri-Shradi who put it past goalkeeper Zack Steffen to make it 1-0.
— New York City Football Club (@NYCFC) September 2, 2018
Tajouri-Shradi’s tally broke a tie with David Villa for the team goal-scoring lead as he moved to 11. Though Moralez didn’t get credit for an assist, his ability to provide opportunities for his teammates was on full display.
Then came a blazing three-minute flurry from the home side. Afful’s blast from 25 yards out which beat Sean Johnson to his left was the first strike. Almost immediately after that, Meram’s header at the far post in which he connected on a Pedro Santos corner broke the tie and proved crucial in giving the Black and Gold a come from behind win. For Santos, it was his sixth assist of 2018.
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) September 2, 2018
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) September 2, 2018
Saturday’s victory ends a two-game losing streak for Columbus, both overall and against NYC. It’s their first triumph over the Cityzens since their 4-1 win in leg one of last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. Afful’s late goal in that game where he slalomed past multiple defenders en route to scoring ultimately proved crucial in Crew SC advancing.
Columbus is idle next week and returns to action on September 15 when they begin a challenging stretch of three games in seven days against FC Dallas. Four days later, they head out west for their only meeting of the year with the Portland Timbers. The club’s next home game is three days after that when they welcome the Colorado Rapids to MAPFRE Stadium.
COLUMBUS, OH – SEPTEMBER 01: Justin Meram (9) of Columbus Crew SC pushes the ball down the sideline in the MLS regular season game between the Columbus Crew SC and the New York City FC on September 01, 2018 at Mapfre Stadium in Columbus, OH. (Photo by Adam Lacy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)