The Columbus Crew are becoming somewhat of a late game heroics type of team, despite the season being so young. For the second game in 4 games, the Crew scored deep into stoppage time to salvage some points. This time it was Hector Jimenez, and the Crew was able to escape from a relatively miserable day against DC United with a share of the points.
The Crew started the same starting XI as he has in for every game this season (with the exception of Arrieta starting in front of Oduro for the first two matches of the season). DominicOduro still hasn’t scored a goal this season, and it’s starting to get a little worrisome for Gregg Berhalter considering how prolific the Ghanaian was last season. DC United started with Eddie Johnson up top, alongside Fabian Espindola. They were also still without starting goalkeeper Bill Hamid, so Andrew Dykstra started between the posts in the black of DC United. Chris Rolfe returned to his birth state of Ohio, where he has had a ton of success in the past with the Chicago Fire. The match featured a lot of late challenges and contentious decisions that fans of both teams have grown accustomed to in recent years. This is, after all, a rivalry between two of the teams that were around from MLS’ very beginning.
The home crowd in Columbus was in loud voice, and the Crew players looked rejuvenated from a hard earned draw in San Jose the weekend prior. But it was DC that struck first. They took the lead in the 31st minute, when the normally immaculate Higuain was disposed in a bad area in front of the Crew penalty area. Nick DeLeon fed the ball to Espindola, who finished neatly past Steve Clark. It was a frustrating lead to give up as the first half came to a close because the Crew had more of the ball and looked more likely to open the scoring.
The second half started more or less like the first half ended, with some Crew possession and chances for both teams. The real debate started in the 71st minute. Eddie Johnson, through on goal, was barreling towards the Crew net with nobody between him and the Crew goalkeeper Steve Clark. Giancarlo Gonzalez sensed the imminent danger and cynically took down the DC forward outside of the box. It was a clear case of the last man denying a goal scoring opportunity, but while the referee was deliberating the severity of the incident, some pushing and shoving occurred in the Crew penalty box between both sets of teams. By the time the altercation was over with, 3 or 4 minutes had passed since the original Gonzalez/Johnson episode and referee Juan Guzman brandished a yellow card. I will admit that I feared the worst for the Crew center back, and was incredibly relieved to see that it was only a yellow instead of the red card that the DC Unitedplayers wanted so badly. It’s a fortunate referring error from the Crew’s perspective, but you can’t stop to dwell on situations like that with the match is still going on. DC didn’t score with the resulting free kick and the game continued with DC still up a goal. 10 minutes later, as if to even up his earlier mistake, the referee wielded a straight red card for Crew midfielder Bernardo Anor for a two footed lunge on DC’s Perry Kitchen. I’m not entirely convinced that this was a straight red offense (yellow card for sure), but it’s hard to argue that the Crew deserved at least one red, and the Venezuelan was sent down the tunnel for an early bath.
It looked like the Crew were destined for their second consecutive home shutout defeat, but they were not to be denied.Wil Trapp (a candidate for MOTM in every single match he plays) did really well to win the ball back from Espindolaoutside of the Crew midfielders own box. He sprinted forward with the ball and picked out a glorious pass to the outside, where Hector Jimenez was lurking on the outside of the DC box. Jimenez cut inside, and unleashed an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner. The Crew celebrated wildly, and took a point from a match in very unlikely circumstances.
Sensing out unlikely the result was given the red card, Jimenez said after the match “What I like the most is our team didn’t back down when we were down a man”. The team showed a lot in those final few minutes, but there are still concerns with the squad. Why is it so hard to score goals, especially after a fairly goal heavy first couple of matches? Also, why has Dominic Oduro failed to score a single goal this season? Who will take Bernardo Anor’splace in the team when he serves his suspension for his red card? Head coach and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter will have to evaluate these questions in time for next weekend’s home game against the struggling New York Red Bulls. 3 points are a must.