New York (AFP) – Norwegian striker Ola Kamara scored in the sixth minute and the host Columbus Crew thumped 10-man New York City FC 4-1 Tuesday in a Major League Soccer playoff match.
Artur, Justin Meram and Harrison Afful added second-half goals after NYCFC lost Alexander Callens to a red card in the 52nd minute, putting the Manchester City-owned side in a major hole in the two-match, total goals series.
A deciding second leg of the quarter-final matchup will be played Sunday in New York.
The winner will advance to the Eastern Conference final against either New York Red Bulls or Toronto. The Canadian side won 2-1 on the road Sunday in the first leg of that series with the rematch next Sunday in Toronto.
Kamara opened the scoring for Columbus in the sixth minute, his right-footed shot finding the lower left corner of the goal.
New York’s David Villa, who helped Spain win the 2010 World Cup, clanked a right-footed shot off the right post to miss an equalizer in the 37th minute and the 35-year-old Spaniard set up Costa Rican striker Rodney Wallace’s shot that went just wide of the right post seconds before halftime.
New York’s Callens, a Peruvian defender, was issued a red card in the 52nd minute for a severe foul and the Crew wasted little time in taking advantage, a turnover by New York in its own half setting up Brazilian midfielder Artur’s goal in the 58th minute for a 2-0 Crew edge.
Meram, a US-born player for Iraq’s national team, scored in the 69th minute on a fast break off a pass from Kamara to make it 3-0 for Columbus.
Villa netted New York’s first playoff goal in club history in the 78th minute but Crew defender Afful of Ghana answered for the hosts in the third minute of second half stoppage time to create the final margin.
The Crew played before an especially passionate crowd that cheered “Save the Crew” much of the night, a nod to owner Anthony Precourt’s announced intention to move the club in 2019, likely to Austin, Texas.
The playoffs continue Thursday with Vancouver at Seattle in the second leg of their Western Conference quarter-final matchup after playing to a goal-less draw Sunday in Canada.
Houston and Portland also played to a 0-0 deadlock Monday in Texas in their first leg with that deciding match Sunday at Portland.
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