For the second time in three home games, Columbus Crew SC benefitted from a red card and dominated a ten-man Orlando City SC side 3-0 in Columbus Saturday night.
Emanuel Pogatetz commanded the Crew defense to their 3rd clean sheet out of 6 games, making them the best defense in the MLS 2015 season so far.
Columbus came out of the gate hot, dominating possession in the opening minutes and generating several opportunities on goal, but lacked quality in the final ball.
The Lions settled into the match eventually, but continued to struggle with creating chances. Kaká was largely silenced starting the night on the wing and the field felt tilted toward the Lions' goal.
After a plethora of chances, Crew SC broke through in the 32nd minute thanks to the first piece of Higuain magic this season. Finlay found space to the left of the Orlando defense and slid a ball toward Higuain, who deftly flicked the ball around his back leg and into the opposite corner of Donovan Ricketts's goal.
The strike was Higuain's first of the season, and Finlay's third assist from Columbus' right wing.
A chippy match came to a head in the 34th minute, when Rafael Ramos was ejected for a shocking tackle that seemed a product of frustration. The defender flew into a challenge with Waylon Francis with his studs raised high, making contact with the Costa Rican.
The scene nearly came to blows, with Ramos disinterested in leaving the field and both sides clashing near the team benches. Columbus' Hernan Grana earned a caution for being one of several players from both teams involved in the altercation.
In response to the red card, Orlando ran with only Kaká up top, leaving the playmaker isolated and the team with very few opportunities to release the relentless Columbus pressure.
That pressure would break the Lions two more times.
First, Kamara caught Cristian Higuita dribbling in his own box and won a challenge to send the ball rolling to Meram, who took a dribble and pounded a hard shot past Ricketts from close range to give Crew SC a 2-0 lead in the 55th minute.
The floodgates were open, and Kamara pounced on an opportunity just five minutes later. Higuain slid a long ball directly through the Orlando defense to spring Kamara behind. As Ricketts closed, the striker popped an Higuain-esque chip over the goalkeeper's head to put Crew SC ahead 3-0.
The win was only the second in the young season for Columbus, who improved to 2-2-2, while Orlando lost their first road match of the season to drop to 2-3-2.
Crew SC have another home game next Saturday night against the Philadelphia Union while Orlando City will return home and face Toronto on Sunday.