Diego Rossi scores his first goal in MLS play this season. Takeaways from Crew win vs Montreal

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It had been almost two months since the Crew secured three points in MLS play when they stepped onto the field at Saputo Stadium on Wednesday and earned a 3-1 victory over CF Montreal.

Prior to the game, the Crew had failed to record a win in league play since defeating the New York Red Bulls 3-0 on March 16. Columbus put together a seven-game winless streak and had yet to pick up an MLS road victory in 2024.

A 2-1 loss to FC Cincinnati at Lower.com Field on Saturday had only made matters worse for the Crew, who needed to find a way to regain momentum before falling too far behind in the Eastern Conference standings. And they had to do it without leading scorer Cucho Hernandez, who sat out the match to recover from back pain.

“It was important for us to bounce back and get a good result,” said Crew midfielder Max Arfsten. “He (coach Wilfried Nancy) gave us a lot of ideas and made sure we did little things right, and I think that’s what you saw.”

Arfsten gave the Crew an early 1-0 lead less than 20 minutes into the game. Columbus looked to be riding the advantage into halftime when goalkeeper Patrick Schulte was given a yellow card within the team’s box on a foul while going for the ball as Montreal’s Joaquin Sosa was attacking the goal.

“I discussed this with the fourth referee during the game,” Nancy said. “They said that he (Schulte) committed. He has to commit, but there is a certain way to commit—to put uncertainty on the opposition. For me, this is a soft one.”

Montreal was awarded a penalty kick that Mathieu Choiniere nailed to even the score 1-1.

Diego Rossi and Marino Hinestroza scored in second half to secure the victory.

May 15, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Crew forward Diego Rossi (10) dribbles against CF Montreal defender Joaquin Sosa (3) during the first half at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Here are two takeaways from the Crew vs Montreal:

Diego Rossi breaks MLS scoring slump with second-half goal for Columbus Crew vs CF Montreal

Rossi has been the Crew’s top scoring threat in CONCACAF Champions Cup play, leading the club with three goals in six matches. During MLS play, though, his production had been nonexistent.

Despite taking 22 shots, just nine on goal, in the 11 games he has appeared in prior to the Montreal match, Rossi had no goals.

Rossi was able to get a goal on the stat sheet Wednesday off an assist from Christian Ramirez, who received a rough pass from Steven Moreira.

“If you see the replay, he (Moreira) has his hands on his head, because he gives a bad pass and puts me in the corner,” Ramirez said. “But at that point, I hear Diego scream, so I just trust him to get it across the goal line and get the tap-in.”

Christian Ramirez brought fresh dynamic to Columbus Crew frontline in first start since injury

Following the match, Ramirez joked that he gave Hernandez a “thanks” for taking this match off, as it opened a starting spot for him.

May 15, 2024; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; Columbus Crew forward Christian Ramirez (17) shoots against CF Montreal forward Ariel Lassiter (11) during the first half at Stade Saputo. Mandatory Credit: David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

Ramirez gave the Crew’s front line a fresh perspective after struggling to score in the past two MLS matches. Ramirez was able to create different opportunities, including the assist on the Rossi goal.

“He’s more of a traditional No. 9, back to goal, big body, obviously a really good finisher,” Arfsten said. “Just provides us more options that stretch out the defense, and if we need an outlet, like if I see him with his back to goal, I know I can play the ball off him, kind of bounce off of him. So, it’s really nice to have him play; it’s a change of pace.”

In Ramirez’s first start since being sidelined with a hamstring strain on March 23, the 6-foot-2 attacker recorded two shots, one on goal, and had a goal during the first half that was overturned after being called offside following VAR review.

Ramirez is willing to embrace any playing time, but he was “itching” to get his first substantial amount of playing time following the injury. Ramirez made sure not to take it for granted.

“I know that I can count on him,” Nancy said. “He’s going to give the maximum and find the connections. The way he understands the game, this is powerful for us. Sometimes I use him, sometimes I don’t, but when I need him, he’s really interesting. Not only with the ball, without the ball, but also for the connection with the players.”