John Tolkin scored his first career goal in the 33rd minute and goalkeeper Carlos Coronel made several huge saves to help the Red Bulls pull within five points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
For the Crew, the loss was their fifth in a row, having now gone winless since July 24th, having been outscored 13-5 during that stretch and they face Seattle in a rematch of the MLS Cup final on Saturday.
Story of the match
Columbus had a chance inside of two minutes as Kevin Molino tucked inside, playing a ball from near the top of the penalty box wide to Harrison Afful. The Ghanian played a low cross back to Molino, whose one-time effort was saved by a diving Coronel.
Five minutes later, it appeared the Crew nearly gave away a penalty as Liam Fraser was called for a foul in the box. Referee Chris Penso quickly pointed to the penalty spot but VAR referee Jose Carlos Rivero suggested he take a second look. Penso did just that and reversed the call.
Fabio had the best chances early on for New York. He got the ball inside the penalty box with just enough room to get a shot off, but put his effort well over the goal. From a corner, he rose highest and put a low, headed effort on goal that Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room dove to his left to save.
The Red Bulls started to take control, dominating possession and the visitors finally paid for this in the 33rd minute with a ball played into Fabio, who played a one-touch pass to Tolkin. He was patient with his cutback and nutmegged Room for his first MLS goal.
Gyasi Zardes should have leveled three minutes before halftime. A long ball out of the back from center back Aboubacar Keita found the US international streaking behind the New York defense. He fired his shot low on the break, but was denied by Coronel.
The Red Bulls goalkeeper was called upon again in the 47th minute as Lucas Zelarayan found space on the left and played a ball across the top of the penalty box to Molino. The winger hit a low shot on target, but Coronel again got down and made the save with his chest.
Columbus thought they had equalized in the 76th minute. Second half substitute Erik Hurtado floated a ball into the six-yard box that found Bradley Wright-Phillips. The former New York forward hit a one-time strike that Coronel stopped.
Just under nine minutes to play and the hosts nearly doubled their lead. A lofted pass into the penalty box found Daniel Royer who chested the ball down and hit a shot that Room saved.
In second half stoppage time, Hurtado thought he had equalized. The winger came rushing into the penalty box and the ball hit Tolkin and went into the New York goal, but it was quickly called back for a foul as Hurtado pushed the New York midfielder in the back.
Man of the match: Carlos Coronel
Coronel was huge when the Red Bulls needed him most. The Brazilian goalkeeper, who was at the center of that wild late penalty kick sequence in Montreal last Saturday, earned his sixth clean sheet of the season with all four of his saves of the game-changing variety.
If New York goes on a run that carries them to their 11th straight postseason appearance, they'll look back on this performance and have their goalkeeper to thank.