Chivas USA comfortably beaten by playoff hopefuls Columbus Crew

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Chivas USA remain rooted to the bottom of Major League Soccer’s Western Conference after a 3-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew in Ohio.

Federico Higuain missed a first-half penalty for the home side, but his blushes were spared by a Justin Meram double, before Bernardo Anor’s header put the icing on the cake.

While the Goats now haven’t won in their last nine matches, the Crew retain play-off hopes, temporarily moving up to third in the East with this result.

Though Columbus made all of the early plays, they struggled to pose a genuine threat to the visitors’ goal, and Nigel Reo-Coker eventually provided the game’s first effort when his strike was deflected into Steve Clark’s grateful arms.

Dull opening

After a desperately dull opening 40 minutes, Gregg Berhalter’s men thought they’d taken the lead when Aaron Schoenfeld side-footed into the net from close range. However, Dan Paladini had been flagged for offside as he bundled past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy having latched onto a ricochet from Ethan Finley’s stab.

But in the final minute of the half, there was some action of note as referee Geoff Gamble pointed to the spot following a collision in the area from Higuain’s corner kick. Just as against Real Salt Lake earlier in the year though, the Argentine’s execution was poor from 12 yards and his blast bounced away off the crossbar.

Despite this disappointment, the hosts were much improved after the break, with a number of dangerous deliveries worrying Kennedy. Finally, in the 52nd minute, Meram made a breakthrough, beautifully curling the ball around an approaching defender to find the far corner.

An awkward Schoenfeld nod then forced the goalkeeper into a flying stop, and Higuain was also denied as he sought redemption for his earlier miss. At the other end, Marvin Chavez quickly provided a reminder that a one-goal advantage is fragile.

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Meram double

Taking this into account, Meram immediately doubled his tally. Intercepting a wayward pass in the midfield, the 25-year-old ran at the retreating Chivas back-line and shaped a finish into the same corner he’d troubled earlier.

The Crew were now hitting their stride, with Eric Gehrig sidestepping a weak challenge but firing wide, while Paladini’s attempt dipped off target. It was Anor who added the third, though. Kennedy appeared to have the substitute’s downwards header covered, but he fumbled the ball over the line to compile Los Rojiblancos’ misery.

Jairo Arrieta’s arrow brought a much better reaction from the Californian custodian with three minutes remaining, with Columbus’ haul staying at three.

The Goats last beat these opponents in 2010, and despite maintaining parity until past the interval, there was little evidence to suggest that they are capable of halting that run any time soon.

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