Columbus Crew SC and their colorful new kit are experiencing a bad start to the season as they lost their second of two games, falling 2-1 to the Philadelphia Union. This is the first time since the 2006 season that the Crew have started the season with two loses and it’s now four competitive defeats in a row dating back to the Eastern Conference final last season.
Philadelphia came into tonight’s game following a poor 2015 season where they finished with one of the worst records in MLS, but they started the better of the two teams. Their best chance came on 14 minutes when Chris Pontius received a deep cross and found Leo Fernandes free on the edge of the box and his first time shot was well saved by Steve Clark.
Columbus were now starting to control the game with Harrison Afful in the thick of the action. First playing a lovely 1-2 with Tony Tchani and crossing for a free Ethan Finlay who could only head over from five yards. Then on 37 minutes Afful laced up his shooting boots, after receiving the ball on the right drove towards the box and let rip with a 25 yard shot that Andre Blake did well to get a hand to and turn it away.
Crew SC continued to dominate with Hector Jimenez coming close after receiving an inside pass from Federico Higuain. He curled a shot which was heading in the far corner until Blake stuck out a strong left hand to turn it around the post.
The on the stroke of half time and against the run of play Crew SC fell behind from a set piece play. A trademark Keegan Rosenberry long throw was headed into his own box by Wil Trapp and the onrushing Pontius split the Crew center backs and side footed it home.
The expected reaction from going behind never materialized from Columbus and it was Philadelphia who were having a comfortable start to the second half. They doubled their lead on 71 minutes when Ilsinho was tackled on the edge of the box and the ball fell invitingly for Pontius to apply the finishes inside the left post.
Finally with the introductions of both Cedrick Mabwati and Justin Meram. Columbus started exerting pressure on the Union defense and it was Mabwati who provided the spark. After receiving the ball on the left, he dribbled into the box, splitting two defenders and let rip with a fierce shot that was pushed behind. The resulting Saeid corner found Kei Kamara free to head home for his first goal of the season.
Columbus did have the opportunity to rescue a point and again it was Mabwati on an identical run from the left. This time his shot was blocked, but he composed himself and found Meram free. Unfortunately Meram could only dispatch a weak shot at goal.
Crew SC came to life too late in the game and the result was a loss in the 2016 home opener. They now embark on a difficult three-game game road trip and could find themselves down the league when they return home to entertain New York City FC on the 16th of April.