Created on Thursday, 05 September 2013 Written by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Justin Meram and Ryan Finley had been finding little success around the net this season. The recent coaching change in Columbus could have a positive effect if Wednesday night was any indication.
Meram and Finley each had a goal and an assist to lead the Crew to a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo in the debut match for Columbus interim coach Brian Bliss.
Bliss, who remains the team's technical director in charge of player personnel, moved into the coaching job after Robert Warzycha was fired Monday in his fifth season.
"When you're coaching you've got a little more invested for 90 minutes than when you're sitting up in the box as the technical director," Bliss said.
Meram set up Finley's goal in the 47th minute then added his first of the season in the 74th with a strike from the left side of the box to the far post, helping the Crew (9-13-5) end a two-game skid.
Finley's goal came off a pass from the left flank by Meram, who redirected the ball from about six yards out.
"Justin made a great play," Finley said. "It was a pretty easy tap-in. Once you get the first goal hopefully more will come."
Three minutes after Finley put the Crew ahead, his penalty kick was denied by Tally Hall.
Houston (10-9-7) fell to 0-2-1 in its past three matches.
"Anytime there's a coaching change you're going to see guys fighting," Houston goalkeepers coach Tim Hanley said. "They want to impress. That part didn't surprise us. We had some really good chances early but we didn't capitalize."
With normal PK taker Federico Higuain suspended, Bliss let Finley take it for the first time.
"I wish I had that one back," Finley said. "He made a pretty good save. I thought I struck it well. I probably won't be taking many more PKs from now on."
Finley got off the hook when Meram scored moments after hitting the crossbar with a shot.
"Honestly, I was thinking probably not the way things were going," Finley said when asked if he was worried about not scoring this season. "It's a little bit of a relief."
Still, he credited a goal-line save by Crew defender Chad Barson off a Will Bruin shot 40 seconds into the match for setting the tone.
"I don't think any of this would have happened without his hard work," Meram said. "That's an unbelievable play."