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Afful: Crew 2-1 Union

Kei Kamara's brace sunk the Union.

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

For the second season in a row, the Columbus Crew put a nail in the coffin containing the Philadelphia Union's playoff aspirations. Two goals from Kei Kamara were enough to survive a late Union surge and take the season series from the Union.

Both sides had chances early. Sebastien Le Toux couldn't catch up to CJ Sapong's through ball in the 9th minute, as Steve Clark rushed out to claim it. A few minutes later, Kei Kamara flew approximately 16 feet into the air for a header that went just wide.

In the 22nd minute, Kamara rectified his earlier mistake. When Richie Marquez headed Harrison Afful's cross right into the path of Kamara, Major League Soccer's leading goalscorer was more than glad to add to his tally.

Afful and Kamara hooked up again in the 28th minute, and it was sloppy. Fabinho had pinched in centrally, and Columbus worked quickly to attack through the space he vacated. Before Fabinho could recover, Afful sent in a cross along the ground that eluded Steven Vitoria and connected with a sliding Kei Kamara. The goal made him the 16th player to score 20 goals in a single MLS season.

The goals were nearly identical. Both times, Afful was left with plenty of space to tee up a cross, and both times, Kamara slipped off Steven Vitoria's back shoulder to finish. It was simply way too easy for a team that's been leaning on Kamara all season.

Tranquillo Barnetta's most dangerous contribution of the night came in the 29th minute, when his long-range effort forced a diving save from Steve Clark.

Barnetta had another rip in the 64th minute, but that, too, was pushed out for a corner.

Three minutes later, the Union finally broke through. After some combination play from Sebastien Le Toux and Conor Casey on the right wing, the former slid a cross into CJ Sapong, who slotted the ball right past Clark. The goal ended a 634-minute scoreless streak for Sapong, who hadn't scored since July 26th.

With 12 minutes remaining, Sebastien Le Toux of 2010 hopped out of a time machine and into the game. His lofted shot from 15 yards out forced a crazy save from Clark, who could only manage to bat it off the bar. The ball was cleared before Casey could take advantage of the rebound.

The final whistle blew as Conor Casey shoved an opposing defender. An outraged fan threw a beer at an assistant referee. The U.S. Open Cup Final is only 18 days away!

Some Things

  • I mentioned early on that the Union would likely lose if they didn't mark Kei Kamara, who is a soccer player who scores a lot of goals. They made a tactical gamble in choosing not to mark him, and it didn't pay off.
  • The Union are not making the playoffs. Not that this result really altered their fate, but it's time to let go of that dream. They now sit only one point behind sixth-placed Montreal, but the Impact have a whopping five games in hand. It's over.