COLUMBUS, Ohio — Harrison Afful scored in the eighth minute, Justin Meram and Dilly Duka added goals in the second half and the Columbus Crew beat the Chicago Fire 3-0 on Saturday night.

The Crew (8-12-11) avoided playoff elimination but still need a strong showing their last three games, which include away games against both of the first-place New York squads.

Afful took Mohammed Saeid’s corner from a few yards beyond the 18-yard box and sliced a shot that knuckled over the leaping Sean Johnson and under the crossbar.

Meram used a give-and-go with Dilly Duka and a cutback move to get free in the area and make it 2-0 for the Crew in the 50th minute. Saeid crossed Meram’s long pass to Duka who capped the scoring with a low shot that skidded over the diving Johnson in the 59th.

The Fire lost their third in a row and dropped to 6-16-9.