Harrison Afful, Mike Grella Net First Goals of 2018 in Columbus Crew SC Win

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Harrison Afful

A frustrating four-match winless run is finally at an end for Columbus Crew SC.

Courtesy of goals from Harrison Afful and Mike Grella, the Black and Gold upended the San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 at MAPFRE Stadium on Saturday. The result gave Columbus its first win since March 24th when they defeated D.C. United at home, 3-1.

Harrison Afful, Mike Grella Net First Goals of 2018 in Columbus Crew SC Win

Both goalscorers for Columbus registered their first tally for the club in 2018. In Grella’s case, it was special in its own right considering that it wasn’t only his first goal since joining Crew SC, it came as a super sub. Grella replaced Niko Hansen in the 65th minute.

Afful initiated the goal-scoring 28 minutes into Saturday’s contest. The Ghanaian right back took a well-placed diagonal pass from Federico Higuain into the box and promptly blasted the ball past Quakes goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell. Afful’s counterpart on the left-hand side, Milton Valenzuela, got the chance started with a square ball to Higuain and received credit for a secondary assist.

For Higuain, that opening goal continued to reinforce his importance to the team from a chance creation standpoint. It’s a major reason for the Argentinian number 10 signing an extension with the club on Thursday. Per Opta, Higuain came into Saturday’s match as one of two MLS players who’ve created 10 or more chances from open play.

But in what’s been a frustrating theme over the past month, Crew SC proved unable to hold onto the lead. In the 45th minute, Danny Hoesen took advantage of some shoddy marking on the part of Milton Valenzuela. The Quakes’ number nine came into the box unimpeded and deftly headed a cross from Florian Jungwirth past Zack Steffen to tie things up.

It marked the second straight week Crew SC has conceded a goal on the cusp of halftime and subsequently blown a lead.

But things turned out differently this time around. Crew SC certainly made an effort to come away with the full three points, outshooting San Jose 7-4 in the second half. And with Grella collecting an incisive pass from Pedro Santos that forced some emergency defending from San Jose, then firing it past Tarbell, Columbus put an end to a frustrating chapter of the 2018 season.

The Black and Gold will make their first West Coast road trip of the season next week, taking on the Seattle Sounders on May 5th. Kickoff from CenturyLink Field takes place at 4 PM ET.

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