Afful, Mensah’s Columbus reach MLS Cup final


Columbus Crew are through to the MLS Cup final after defeating New England Revolution 1-0 in the Eastern Conference final.

Arthur’s 59th-minute strike was all Caleb Porter’s men needed to guarantee victory over the Revs courtesy of Jonathan Mensah’s assist.

New England had their best chance of the first half in the 28th minute, when Carles Gil played a ball over the top to Adam Buksa down the left side, allowing the Polish striker to streak by Mensah and rip a shot on goal, only to see it deflect off the near post.

In the 36th minute, goalkeeper Matt Turner denied Columbus Crew from taking the lead after making a diving save to prevent Lucas Zelarayan’s strike from sailing in.

After a goalless first half, the Crew got their breakthrough just before the hour mark after Zelarayan sent in a cross to the far post that was laid back off a cross the box by Mensah, allowing Arthur to coolly slot home a first-time finish.

They continued to apply the pressure and almost doubled the lead in spectacular fashion just three minutes later with a daring long-distance attempt from Zelarayan that beat Turner but was stopped by the woodwork.

That near-miss provided New England with a lifeline as they pushed for an equaliser, but could not halt their opponents from being crowned as champions of the Eastern Conference for 2020.

Harrison Afful and Mensah were in action from start to finish for the Black and Gold while their compatriot Emmanuel Boateng was brought on as an 80th-minute substitute for Luis Diaz. Nigeria international Fanendo Adi and Morooco’s Youness Mokhtar were unused substitutes.

On the other side, Gambian forward Kekuta Manneh was not dressed for action by manager Arena.

Columbus Crew will play Seattle Sounders who beat Minnesota United 3-2 to qualify for the Western Conference final.

The 2020 MLS Cup takes places on Saturday, December 12.

The Black & Gold previously played in two MLS Cups (2008, 2015) having won in the 2008 campaign. – Goal.com


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