Dominic Oduro scored in the 15th minute for his team-best 11th goal to give Columbus a 1-0 lead, Federico Higuain converted a penalty kick in the second half and the Crew doused the short-handed Chicago Fire on Saturday night, 3-0.
Chicago’s Bakary Soumare was ejected in the 29th minute for challenging Columbus’ Jairo Arrieta just outside the penalty area.
Arrieta was tackled by goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 70th minute and Higuain converted from the spot. Bernardo Anor made it 3-0 in the 76th minute.
Chicago dropped from fifth into a tie for sixth with Philadelphia at 39 points. The Crew have four matches left, while Chicago, New England and Philadelphia have five.
Oduro said being in the playoff hunt was more important than scoring against his former club.
”It felt good but it’s not our main focus,” he said. ”Our main focus is getting three points. That (goal) was icing on the cake.”
The Crew won their second straight game and are now 11-14-5 on the season.