Columbus Crew SC drew with Toronto FC 1-1 Wednesday, a result that left Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter disappointed.
“We need more…Toronto was very focused on getting the shutout,” Berhalter said. “But I’m more disappointed with giving up that goal.”
Toronto FC clearly came out with a defensive mindset, packing their own box in an effort to limit Crew SC chances on goal in the first half. Columbus still managed to create chances however, outshooting Toronto 5-2 in the half and recorded two shots on goal compared to Toronto’s zero.
Despite the chances for Columbus, the two teams went into halftime scoreless.
The second half started following a brief weather delay and Crew SC appeared poised to open up the game. Toronto used all three substitutions within the first 15 minutes of the second half, and Crew SC was able to get on the board by way of Ghanaian right back Harrison Afful.
In the 52nd minute, following a Dilly Duka corner, Josh Williams headed the ball away but it eventually found the foot of Afful, who blasted a shot that went bottom right, right through the legs of Ola Kamara. The goal was Afful’s first for Crew SC.
“It felt great (to score) but I’m not happy with the result.” Afful said.
Following the goal, Crew SC seemed to have taken control and Berhalter said he felt like they were going to break the game open.
Then, Toronto’s Mark Bloom was shaken up and subbed off for Nick Hagglund in the 57th and Jay Chapman was brought on in the 59th for Justin Morrow.
“Strange turn of events,” Berhalter said on the substitutions, “they get an injury, and it helps their shape, by the changes they were forced to make. They were in trouble then they had to sub two guys out and their shape became much better.”
The new, 4-2-3-1 formation quickly helped Toronto FC as they equalized just five minutes following their third substitution. Substitute Jay Chapman found Jordan Hamilton with a through ball and Hamilton blasted the chance past Steve Clark to even the game at 1-1 in the 64th minute.
Clark would later stuff a Jonathan Osorio shot to keep the game level and Tony Tchani would force Toronto goalkeeper Alex Bono to make a save of his own but neither team would create the critical chance to earn three points and the match ended with the 1-1 result.
Berhalter attempted to put the game and the result into perspective following the match.
“As tough as this seems, and it is tough and I clearly wasn’t happy, I thought it was a game we should win, we’re five points back and there’s a lot of soccer to be played. Our focus is on the next game, we face D.C., and that’s all we’re focused on.”
Berhalter also described how he plans to get more from his players in order to break out of their six game winless streak in league play.
“I’m not going to say it’s been a smooth ride. I think there’s been a combination of factors that’s led to us not playing our best. We think we’re a better team than where we are right now, but the table doesn’t lie.”
The table currently has Crew SC sitting in second to last place in the Eastern Conference with 17 points and a 3-8-7 record.
The Black and Gold are back in action Saturday when they take on D.C. United at 7:30 pm. Toronto FC sits in the fifth position with 24 points, and the Reds will take on San Jose Saturday at 10:30 pm, with 2015 MLS MVP Sebastian Giovinco expected to rejoin the squad.