The allowance of two second-half goals made for Columbus Crew SC’s first loss in its past 15 regular season games on Saturday at MAPFRE Stadium against Vancouver Whitecaps FC. An early goal by forward Gyasi Zardes was the lone score for Columbus.
In the 29th minute of Crew SC’s loss, midfielder Pedro Santos fired a hard shot from outside the box that was deflected by VWFC goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic. Zardes collected the ball and put it into the back of the net. The goal was his fourth this season.
Three Vancouver attackers pushed the envelope early in the second half and knotted up the score at 1-1. Midfielder Brek Shea finished with ease after finding a ball rebounded by Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen in the 52nd minute. Defender Jake Nerwinski sent in the original cross that Steffen knocked away. Forward Kei Kamara was in on the action as well for VWFC.
The Black & Gold narrowly avoided giving up a goal in the 71st minute. VWFC midfielder Alphonso Davies finished past Steffen, but video review later determined that the ball touched his hand prior to the score.
In the 78th minute, a game-winning, straight-on header by Kamara made for VWFC’s second goal of the match, this time without a doubt. Kamara received a cross from midfielder Felipe. Davies was credited with a secondary assist as well.
Kamara’s winner made for a dramatic end in Columbus. A former member of Crew SC from 2006-2007 and 2015-2016, the striker made it clear prior to the match that there is no love lost between himself and his former team. Kamara’s exit in 2016 came in the wake of an on-field dispute over a penalty kick with midfielder Federico Higuain.
Defender Lalas Abubakar, who went toe-to-toe with Kamara for all 90 minutes alongside fellow center back Jonathan Mensah, was disappointed that the striker couldn’t be held scoreless.
“For me at center back, he was the last person I was expecting to score on us. Coming into the game, he was my priority. I wanted to stop him from scoring. It was a good battle between me and [Mensah] and him. It was just unfortunate that he scored on us.”
Countering the physicality and size of Vancouver was a key for Columbus entering the match. Where the Black & Gold should have outlasted VWFC with speed in the second half, they faltered.
“They were huge,” Berhalter said. “That was a big team we played against today. But, for me it was about using our quickness. Using our speed, using our ball circulation. And any time you play against players that are that big, you have to make them move quickly, and we didn’t do that. Very poor job of putting any sort of tempo into the ball circulation.”
Crew SC’s undefeated streak dated back to 2017. Nine wins and five draws came in that stretch with a goal differential of 27-13.. The streak was the second-longest in the club’s history to the 19-game stretch that took place from 2004-2005. In terms of home matches, Columbus did not lose in 11 straight (9-0-2) with a goal differential of 25-9.
The term “wake-up call” was a common one for the Black & Gold during post match.
“I think it’s true,” midifielder Wil Trapp said. “This is a game where we can’t just stroll on the field and be up a goal and think it’s over at halftime. Granted, there’s things we changed a little bit. I think we could’ve been much better in the second half, but it’s a long season and this is a game with an opponent we think we should beat and we didn’t do it. We didn’t get it done, so we have to continue to improve.”
Columbus’ (3-1-1, 10 points) all-time record against Vancouver (3-1-1, 10 points) now stands at 2-5-2. The Black & Gold haven’t defeated the Whitecaps outright since 2011.
Crew SC will travel to face the Chicago Fire on April 7 for an 8:30 p.m. ET start.