Fueled by goals from C.J. Sapong, Vincent Nogueira and Sebastien Le Toux, the Union blitzed Columbus Crew SC 3-0 on Wednesday night in front of an elated crowd at PPL Park.
Le Toux, Cristian Maidana and Sheanon Williams added assists, and Brian Sylvestre earned his third shutout in five games for the Union (4-8-3), who have now won three of their last four following a dreadful 1-7-3 start to the year.
Riddled by mistakes and struggling to find their footing all night, Crew SC (4-4-5) are winless in their last four and dropped to 0-4-3 on the road this season.
The Union first got on the board shortly before halftime, taking advantage when Justin Meram slipped near the middle of the field and lost possession. Maurice Edu started a break going the other way and laid the ball off to Maidana, who slid it into Le Toux in the box. Le Toux’s cutback pass across the face of the goal then found Sapong for a tap-in. It was Sapong’s third goal of the season and second since coming back from a three-game suspension for a DUI arrest two weeks ago.
The Crew SC nearly tied it up just before halftime, but Ethan Finlay’s shot went just wide after a nice run. That miss proved critical when a Crew SC howler early in the second half opened the floodgates.
After scooping up a ball played in by Le Toux, Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark ran forward in the box to roll the ball out before slipping, losing control of the ball and leaving the net unattended. Nogueira took advantage of the massive error with a cheeky chip from about 25 yards out for his third goal of the season, making it 2-0 in the 52nd minute.
Six minutes later, the Union went up 3-0 when Williams made a brilliant run down the right sideline, combining with Sapong and scorching Columbus center back Emanuel Pogatetz before setting up Le Toux for his second goal in as many games. Le Toux had previously gone scoreless through the first 13 games of the season.
The Union came close to adding a fourth goal a few times, while the Crew SC did little to try to forge a comeback, finishing with two total shots on target.
Before the Union’s unlikely offensive explosion, though, the Crew SC looked prime to take a first-half lead. Sylvestre made a terrific save on an Aaron Schoenfeld header from a Waylon Francis cross in the 27th minute to keep the game scoreless. In an exciting end-to-end sequence, that play came just after Fernando Aristegueita was taken down in the other box but did not get a call.
Aristegueita looked hobbled the rest of the half before coming out for Sapong in the 37th minute.
The Crew SC were playing shorthanded as Michael Parkhurst served a one-game red card suspension. With his team in the midst of a tough stretch, Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter also opted to leave Golden Boot leader Kei Kamara and regular Tony Tchani out of the starting lineup as well.
Both teams have quick turnarounds, with the Union playing host to New York City FC and the Crew SC returning home to face the Montreal Impact on Saturday.