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Late goal helps rescue Columbus playoff ambitions

Chivas USA v Columbus Crew

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 19: Justin Meram #9 of the Columbus Crew celebrates his goal against Chivas USA in the 89th minute on September 19, 2012 at Crew Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus defeated Chivas USA 1-0. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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Last weekend, it was Dallas scoring late, late, late to rescue fading playoff hopes.

Last night Columbus did the same, as Justin Meram pounced assertively on a loose ball near Chivas USA goal in the 89th minute. That ensured all three point for Columbus, which absolutely, positively needed all three.

The win moved Columbus back into fifth place in the East, into the final playoff position, just ahead of D.C. United.

Just like in the West, the playoff race on the right side of the map is down to six teams (fighting for five spots); others still have mathematical chances, but who’s kidding who?

Since United has a game in hand over Columbus and a favorable schedule, the Crew may not have recovered from missing out on those two additional points. That’s the razor thin margin for error that teams will deal with over these last few weeks.

By the way, Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum did what he’s done all year for Columbus, scooping up the big saves that gave his team the opportunity to win it late.

Here are highlights from last night’s 1-0 win in Ohio.