Crew, Revs battle in critical Eastern Conference tilt

The Columbus Crew aim for their second consecutive victory in league play as the club hosts the New England Revolution on Saturday at Crew Stadium.

Columbus had been riding a three-match losing streak prior to last week, but the run of poor form came to an end after the Crew held off 10-man Portland Timbers by a 1-0 score on July 7.

The Crew took the lead in the fifth minute as Federico Higuain flighted in a corner kick from the left and Bernardo Anor powered a header inside the near post from the top of the goal area.

Portland's poor start was magnified in the 11th minute when defender Pa Modou Kah was issued a red card for getting a boot to the face of Columbus forward Aaron Schoenfeld, which also resulted in a penalty kick for the Crew.

Higuain pulled the spot kick wide to the left, but it didn't come back to bite his club as the Crew held on to claim all three points.

"Home field advantage this year has not been very good to us. Maybe now this is a start for us," said Crew head coach Robert Warzycha. "Even with a new lineup, we started the game very well. We scored a goal, got a penalty kick, and obviously the red card. The rest of the way, I don't think it was pretty, but it was effective."

Columbus goalkeeper Matt Lampson made his first start of the season with top- choice 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum sidelined with a sore left shoulder. Lampson recorded his first career MLS shutout in his fourth career league appearance.

"I was pretty confident after we scored; the way we played for 90 minutes you can play like that every game and get away with a one-nothing win," Lampson said. "Incredible team effort, and defensive effort from everyone and I think a lot of people had the best game of the year they had this year."

The Revolution enter Saturday's tilt riding a two-match losing streak and sit in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 24 points from 19 matches.

Last time out, New England lost by a 2-1 count to the Colorado Rapids at Dicks's Sporting Goods Park on Wednesday.

The Revolution took the lead in the 15th minute. From a free kick just outside the penalty box on the right, Juan Toja's effort sailed past the outside edge of the wall and fooled Rapids goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who was screened as the low blast went into the corner of the net.

But Colorado hit back for the tying goal in the 62nd minute when Nick LaBrocca fired a left-footed strike past Revolution goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth.

Just five minutes later, the Rapids went ahead with a little help. A cross from Dillon Powers went just in front of goal, but as New England defender Jose Goncalves tried to clear the danger he inadvertently put the ball in the back of his own net for the game-winner.

"We wanted to play better than we did in the first half," Revolution head coach Jay Heaps said. "We really thought in the first half we were second to balls. Some of the things we are good at, we just weren't doing. It's disappointing because we want to keep the ball when we can. We knew it was going to be tough, but we didn't play well."

In 57 all-time meetings between the clubs, Columbus holds a 29-17-11 advantage, while the Revs are looking for their first win in Columbus since 2009.