Justin Meram scored in the 89th minute to give the Columbus Crew a 1-0 victory over Chivas USA on Wednesday night.
The Crew (13-10-6) broke a two-game losing streak to move into fifth in the Eastern Conference, a point ahead of D.C. United for the final playoff spot. Columbus has five matches left, D.C. has six.
Meram, who entered in the 80th minute, put in a headed back pass from Jairo Arrieta after Arrieta was denied by goalkeeper Dan Kennedy. The rebound came back to Arrieta and he lunged to get the ball to Meram for his fourth goal of the season.
''Good job by Jairo,'' Meram said. ''I just saw it bounce out and I just wanted to connect it and I hit it with pace. I didn't want to place it and after that, I was fortunate it went in.''
The play started with another second half substitute, Tony Tchani, feeding Federico Higuain on the left flank.
''I was trying to go toward the goal but it was kind of crowded and I saw Federico wide,'' Tchani said. ''I kind of opened myself and he saw me.''
Crew coach Robert Warzycha had exhausted all three subs with 10 minutes left in order to spark a badly needed win.
''The first half didn't go our way. We were disconnected. We couldn't make any passes stick,'' he said. ''Sometimes the game doesn't go your way and you have to change something.''
Chivas (7-14-7) is 0-6-2 in the past eight games and has lost four straight.
The defeat was a microcosm of the season according to coach Robin Fraser, who watched the match from the stands because of a one-game ban.
''I really thought in the first half we put together some really good things,'' he said. ''We were quite dangerous. It's frustrating to not to continue to play as well then obviously put ourselves behind the eight-ball.''