Crew SC (7-14-3, 24 points) now has back-to-back league wins for the first time since early April, and it’s the second consecutive year they earned three points at Red Bull Arena. The Red Bulls (10-9-4, 34 points) lost for the second time in three games. And it was their fourth loss of the year at a venue that once was a fortress.
“There is nothing like game day. We feel like we wasted that opportunity tonight,” Red Bulls coach Chris Armas said. “Not enough energy, not enough urgency. Not enough commitment to the details, and all the things that make us good.”
The decisive goal came in the 84th minute when an opportunistic Santos raced onto the rebound of Gyasi Zardes’ saved shot and fired into the empty net from 12 yards out for his seventh goal of the season.
Crew SC attacked from the outset. Like many other opponents this year, Crew SC changed their tactics and looked to go long out of the back, putting balls behind the Red Bulls defense.
Artur hit the post in the 10th minute. Two minutes later, Red Bulls goalkeeper Luis Robles was forced into a kick save to deny Luis Argudo, who was set up by a Zardes backheel.
“For us to play as aggressive as we did, to really do some things, adapt our style of play a little bit, to kind of take away what they want to do and actually, because we went more direct, we created a ton of chances and problems for New York,” Crew SC coach Caleb Porter said. “We knew that in our scouting. We scored three goals. We got good performances across the board and we showed a lot of team spirit and unity, as well, today.”
But the Red Bulls took the lead on their first shot. Brian White split Crew SC central defenders Alex Crognale and Aboubacar Keita to latch onto a Marc Rzatkowski cross and head in his ninth goal of the season in the 15th minute.
One minute later, the Crew leveled after Zardes beat Aaron Long in a race to a ball played long out of the back by Crognale and headed into space. Argudo, a Queens N.Y. native, fired past Robles for his first career regular-season goal.
Columbus took the lead less than a minute after the restart when Argudo cut inside of Tim Parker and slipped a pass to Santos, who scored from close range.
Argudo’s eventful night continued in the 63rd minute when referee Fotis Bazakos ruled he pulled back the Red Bulls’ Daniel Royer in the box following video review. The Austrian winger buried his penalty kick high to the left of Crew SC goalkeeper Eloy Room for his eighth goal of the season.
Just when it looked like the teams would share the points for a second time this season, Santos came up with the late winner and the Red Bulls were serenaded with boos at the final whistle.
“I think we got outdueled, we got outcompeted, we got outscored,” Robles said. “The worst part is its at home right in front of our fans which doesn’t do us any favors, especially when you look at the standings.”