Columbus Crew SC snatched a late goal from Ola Kamara to secure a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls Saturday.
“It was one of those (games) you have to dig deep for,“ Columbus Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said, “I’m proud of the effort, your back’s against the wall, you are looking at a loss, (but) you keep going.”
Crew SC’s back was undoubtedly up against the wall for most of the game, with New York dominating the opening half, outshooting Columbus 5-2 while maintaining the advantage in possession as well.
“They outperformed us in the first half, (they were) much more physical.” Berhalter said.
The Red Bull’s physicality manifested itself in some negative ways however, with three players, Connor Lade, Alex Muyl and Sacha Kljestan all receiving cards in a seven and a half minute span from the 32nd minute to the 39th.
Going into the second half, Berhalter wanted to apply pressure to the Red Bulls by going at the cautioned players, but New York would pressure Crew SC by way of the scoreboard, tacking on the first goal of the game.
Muyl, a Homegrown signing, received a ball out wide from Dax McCarty, and the Red Bulls Academy grad and former Georgetown Hoya curled in a cross that found a virtually unmarked Bradley Wright-Phillips, who headed it past Steve Clark simply.
“I had to make a play on the ball,” Crew SC defender Tyson Wahl said.“And Michael (Parkhurst) had to make a tough choice he was in a 2-on-1, and they were able to find the far post.”
Crew SC responded to the 52nd minute goal with a substitution in the 59th minute, with 18-year-old Cristian Martinez coming on for Mohammed Saeid, and the youngster created a few chances, but the largest impact was made by the second Columbus sub: Waylon Francis.
Francis has begun coming off the bench for Crew SC in 2016, even after having a starting role in a 2015 campaign that saw him lead all MLS defenders in assists.
“All of our substitutes did a good job and changed the game,” Berhalter said. “With Waylon (Francis), it’s all about getting him in a rhythm and getting him confident because he’s a very good left back in this league.”
Francis would show his quality deep into stoppage time in the 93rd minute, receiving a ball from Ethan Finlay wide on the left side of the box and the Costa Rican international swung in a low cross that curled behind the New York defense and found the boot of Ola Kamara, who deflected the ball down and away from Luis Robles and found the back of the net. This would level the match at 1-1 with just mere moments to go. Kamara let out a roar following his fifth goal of the season, and pushed for Crew SC to find a winning goal.
None would come however, despite Harrison Afful drawing contact from Red Bulls defenders and forcing a late corner, and the match ended 1-1 thanks to Kamara.
“He has good movement,” Berhalter said on the Norwegian forward. “He could have had a couple more today. He doesn’t give up, he keeps fighting.”
Berhalter concluded by emphasizing he will not make any excuses due to the absence of players like Federico Higuain (hernia surgery) and Cedrick Mabwati (malaria) and will not be happy with a draw, but was impressed with the team’s overall performance.
Both teams will continue in U.S. Open Cup play next week in the Round of 16, with New York facing Philadelphia Union on Wednesday and Crew SC traveling to the rival Chicago Fire on Tuesday.