Christian Ramirez scored twice and had an assist as the host Columbus Crew held off Charlotte FC 4-2 on Saturday.
Cucho Hernandez and Max Arfsten each had a goal and an assist for the Crew (7-6-3, 24 points).
They led 3-0 at the half on goals by Ramirez in the fifth minute, Arfsten in the 21st and Hernandez off chip pass from Lucas Zelarayan in the 43rd.
Charlotte responded with goals by Karol Swiderski in the 56th and Justin Meram in the 58th, only for Ramirez to regain the two-goal lead a minute later as the Crew won their second straight match.
Charlotte (6-8-3, 21 points) lost its second straight in a match delayed 30 minutes at the start because of lightning in the area.
Columbus entered as the third-highest scoring team in MLS with 29 goals (1.93 per game) but suffered their lone shutout, 1-0, at Charlotte on April 22.
Ramirez quickly made sure that didn’t happen again. Hernandez intercepted a pass near midfield and while being crunched by two Charlotte players, passed ahead to Ramirez, who drilled a shot from 19 yards.
After Arfsten’s goal from the right side of the box, Zelarayan and Hernandez worked magic for the 3-0 lead.
Zelarayan looped the ball over four defenders to where Hernandez stretched to redirect it into the net with his right foot before crashing into goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.
Hernandez has a goal or assist in seven straight games (three goals, six assists). Zelarayan has a goal and three assists in the past two games.
Swiderski put Charlotte on the board by fending Steven Moreira to receive an overhead ball from Ashley Westwood, then placing a shot past Patrick Schulte.
Meram, the former Crew forward who had a goal disallowed in the 25th minute when video review showed he was offside, took advantage of a giveaway in front of the box for his third goal in eight games since being acquired from Real Salt Lake on April 28.
The comeback was immediately quelled when Arfsten set up Ramirez for his fifth goal this season to make it 4-2.
–Field Level Media