(Reuters) - The Columbus Crew shut down the top-seeded New York Red Bulls and snatched the first leg of Major League Soccer’s EasternConference final 2-0 on Sunday.
Facing the top goal-scoring offense in the MLS, the Crew grabbed control early and stood firm for a critical home victory.
Justin Meram blasted a goal from the center of the box in the opening minute, and Kei Kamara put the game away with a score in the 85th minute.
Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark helped the Crew earn their first post-season shutout since 2008.
“It was a credit to everyone, we did well tonight,” Kamara told reporters after his third goal of the post-season aided the win.
“We knew they were going to press us. It was hard to get out of their press. We just kept pushing each other.”
Knowing it was critical to add a second goal against a dangerous Red Bulls attack, Columbus did not sit back after claiming the early advantage.
Cedrick fired a shot that was saved by Red Bulls keeper Luis Robles, shortly before Kamara converted from close range.
“We were urging the players to keep going and keep making those runs,” said Crew coach Gregg Berhalter. “I thought there was space that we could exploit."
New York will have their chance to respond when they head home to host the second leg of the series next Sunday.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by Larry Fine)