Goalkeeper Sean Johnson faced 24 shots. (USA TODAY Sports)
COLUMBUS, Ohio — With the Red Bulls stinking up the joint in an embarrassing loss at the Montreal Impact Saturday night, New York City FC had a fabulous opportunity to move closer to the Eastern Conference leaders.
Then City went out and put on a stinker of its own in a 2-1 loss at Columbus Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium.
While the one-goal difference made it sound close, in many respects, the team were far apart, as in the number of shots at goal. Columbus outshot New York, 24-7, and turned a pair of corner kicks midway through the second half into goals.
The result left NYCFC (14-7-6, 48 points) in third place in the East while Columbus (12-8-7, 43) moved within five points of the visiting side.
Ismael Tajouri-Shradi lifted the visitors into the lead in the 51st minute as he grabbed a deflected pass from Jo Inge Berget and beat goalkeeper Zack Steffen from the right edge of the goal box for his 11th goal this season.
Then it was all Columbus the rest of the way as the hosts scored off off two corner kicks within minutes of one another.
First, Harrison Afful equalized in the 61st minute. After his first shot was blocked by midfielder Alex Ring, Afful beat a screened goalkeeper Sean Johnson.
Only two minutes later, Justin Meram tallied his first goal since returning to Crew SC. He leaped over center back Sebastien Ibeagha to put home Pedro Santos’ corner kick for a 2-1 lead.
NYCFC can bounce back this week with two home games. They host the New England Revolution at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night before welcoming D.C. United and Wayne Rooney Saturday night.