Crew strike early, never look back to down Nashville SC

Christian Ramirez scored early in the first half and Patrick Schulte made four saves as the host Columbus Crew defeated Nashville SC 2-0 on Saturday.

Ramirez made it 1-0 in the 20th minute and an own goal by Nashville defender Jack Maher in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time forged the final score as the Crew (9-6-4, 31 points) extended their unbeaten run to five (4-0-1).

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The rookie Schulte earned his fourth shutout of the season as the Crew improved to 7-1-2 at home.

Nashville (10-5-5, 35 points) lost again after a 10-game unbeaten streak (7-0-3) ended in a 1-0 loss at Montreal on Wednesday.

Ramirez continued his hot stretch with his fourth goal in his past four games to complete a swift sequence by the Crew.

Alex Muyl had just put Nashville's first shot on goal when a goal kick by Schulte sent the Crew the other way. Lucas Zelarayan stripped Brian Anunga near the center circle and sent a deft through ball to Ramirez.

Columbus Crew players celebrate after scoring a goal against Nashville in MLS.
Columbus Crew players celebrate after scoring a goal against Nashville in MLS.
USA Today Images

Ramirez took his first touch with his right foot then struck for his seventh goal of the season with his left.

The Crew also led 1-0 at the half on May 28 before Nashville scored three unanswered goals for a home victory.

This match featured the league's best offense versus the best defense and played out at the start as expected with the Crew employing their high-possession game and Nashville absorbing the pressure and looking for MLS goal leader Hany Mukhtar on the counter.

Nearly two minutes into the game, Cucho Hernandez forced a save by Joe Willis, and five minutes later, Mohamed Farsi misfired from close range after a Zelarayan set up.

In the 55th minute, Mukhtar put a header on frame that Schulte tipped over the crossbar.

Willis kept it a one-goal game with outstanding stops of a Zelarayan free kick in the 87th minute and a shot from Hernandez in the 88th. Willis made four saves.

The Crew got the cushion they needed in stoppage time when a cross by Max Arfsten deflected off Maher's left foot.