Columbus, OH – The Columbus Crew aim to move closer to a playoff berth on Saturday when the club hosts Toronto FC in the season's final installment of the Trillium Cup at Columbus Crew Stadium.
After a lackluster 3-1 setback against the Houston Dynamo on Aug. 3, the Crew bounced back nicely with a surprising 2-0 result over the New York Red Bulls last week, snapping a three-match winless run in the process.
Crew forward Federico Higuain netted a second-half brace to lead the Crew to an important three points.
The Argentine opened the scoring in the 61st minute when he converted a penalty kick following a foul in the box by New York midfielder Eric Alexander on Agustin Viana.
Higuain then sealed the result with a beautiful second goal 14 minutes from time after he ran onto a through ball from Will Trapp and chipped it over the head of New York goalkeeper Luis Robles.
"It must be among the best ones [I've ever scored]," Higuain said. "I scored a similar one in the past, but because of the situation, because of our need to win, because of some of the other circumstances and how the game was playing out, it's really got to be up there near the top. But it was very important after a run of games where we were not able to find a win."
"It was an incredible goal," midfielder Bernardo Anor added. "It was a beautiful finish. He was practicing some of those shots the day before, so he kind of got a good touch of the ball and was making them most of the time. He's such a great finisher, and I think it was very relieving for us, winning 1-0, [after the goal] the game was a little more calm and we got in control of the game."
The result moved the Crew to 26 points and a win over Toronto this week will pull the club within four points of the Houston Dynamo for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Toronto, meanwhile, saw their modest three-game unbeaten streak come to an end following a 2-1 defeat to the Seattle Sounders at BMO Field.
The Reds fell behind just 16 minutes in when Brad Evans' cross found Eddie Johnson at the back post. Johnson headed across the box to an unmarked Rosales, who put the ball past a helpless Joe Bendik for Seattle's first road goal in 343 minutes.
The BMO Field crowd got a thrill when U.S. international Clint Dempsey made his Sounders debut in the 34th minute, coming on for an injured Obafemi Martins.
Seattle doubled its lead in the 40th minute when some poor defending by Toronto saw Henry redirect a cross by Lamar Neagle into the back of the net for an own goal.
Toronto stormed back to make a game of it in the first minute of the second half, when midfielder Jonathan Osorio used some impressive footwork in the Seattle box to open up space for a shot that resulted in his fifth goal of the season.
But the Reds couldn't make it all the way back and Seattle held on for three points.
Toronto head coach Ryan Nelsen praised his team for an overall quality performance, but again lamented defensive miscues that have seen the Reds drop points all season long.
"We are who we are at the moment," Nelsen said. "It was just two silly goals off two silly errors," Nelsen said. "I'm very disappointed in the first goal. The second goal was a bit unfortunate and unlucky, but the lead up wasn't good."