Red Bulls on top of the East with win over Crew

IMAGE, MATT KREMKAU FOR EMPIRE OF SOCCER

by DAVE MARTINEZ

HARRISON, N.J. – The New York Red Bulls just keep on winning — and are now a breathe away from claiming the Eastern Conference crown.

The Red Bulls put down the Columbus Crew 3-2 at Red Bull Arena to solidify their place atop the Eastern Conference. Mike Grella opened the scoring in the second half with a top corner blast and Bradley Wright-Phillips followed up with a goal five minutes later. Wright-Phillips finished a set piece to put New York up three. Columbus rallied behind goals from Adam Jahn and Harrison Afful, but fell short of a late comeback.

New York all but take the East with this win, but must wait for next week’s results to officially become Conference champs.

Columbus nearly went down just five minutes into the match. In his first match as a starter, Brad Stuver knocked down Alex Muyl in the box for a penalty call. Sacha Kljestan stepped up to the spot and Stuver was up to the task, smacking the ball out of danger.

The rest of the half was a back and forth affair, making way for an exciting second half. Mike Grella opened the scoring in the 63′ with a 20 yard rocket, beating Stuver upper 90. Five minutes later, Wright-Phillips put Red Bull Arena on their feet with a spectacular individual effort, shaking off his marker and beating Stuver to double the lead.

And he wasn’t done there. Wright-Philips finished off a beautiful set piece opportunity in the 70′, knocking a flick from Aurelien Collin into the net to make it 3-0.

Columbus would not back down. The Crew managed a pair of goals late in the match thanks to some excellent finishing from Jahn and Afful. However, New York did just enough to fend off the attack and take all three points.

With a vast advantage on goal differential, New York have effectively taken the Eastern Conference crown, pending next week’s results. They finish off their season in Philadelphia next weekend.