Chad Marshall’s first goal this year and Dominic Oduro’s crafty little 78th minute finish have kept the Columbus Crew – a team with one foot in the MLS playoff grave and the other on a banana peel – alive in this thing a little while longer.
The Crew is in eight place, which means having to climb past three other Eastern Conference playoff chasers to get into the post-season.
This was such a great victory for interim manager Brian Bliss and his Crew men in yellow – the first time this year Columbus has come from behind to win a match – it that it could even propel a late run on a playoff spot.
The issue that will ultimately keep Columbus from getting there can be seen in the games in hand category of Major League Soccer’s updated standings. All three teams the Crew would need to pass right now to reach the playoffs have two additional matches remaining. It might not be a bridge too far if Columbus had just one team or maybe even two to get past, but counting on three teams to throw away that many points over the last five rounds of league play? That’s highly unlikely.
But no matter. It was a great win for Columbus, significantly depleted by key injuries and further behind the eight ball on the road, not having won away from Crew Stadium in its previous eight tries.
On the other side, there is no other way to look at this for Montreal other than a case of tremendous opportunity lost. Sitting tentatively in first place, but with New York and Sporting Kansas City so close in the standings that they are essentially inside the Impact shirts, an opportunity for three points at Stade Saputo against a struggling side was one begging to be had.
Montreal is a team that keeps getting more mentions as a potential Supporters Shield winner, and it may turn out that way yet.
But if you watch the first goal in the highlights, you will see something that happens way too often for Marco Schallibaum’s team: they give up soft goals.
How Marshall (pictured above), not the aerial threat he once represented but still a significant menace on offensive restarts, could be allowed to run free and jump unimpeded to score the goal is beyond comprehension.
Suffice to say, that is not how to win a Supporters Shield.
The second goal, Oduro’s game-winner, was off a fantastic feed from Argentina playmaker Federico Higuain.