The Columbus Crew nearly stole a victory on the road Sunday evening, but a late goal left the team to settle for a 2-2 draw with the New York Red Bulls. Dominic Oduro and Federico Higuain scored for the Crew, while Thierry Henry and Jamison Olave found the net for New York.
Head coach Robert Warzycha was forced to reach deep into his bench to find a starting lineup for this game, with a handful of regular starters unavailable because of injuries or suspensions. Glauber and Jairo Arrieta were each suspended for this game, while both Chad Marshall and Agustin Viana were nursing injuries. In their place the team turned to Eric Gehrig and Kevan George to anchor the defense, while Matias Sanchez and Justin Meram earned starts in the midfield.
The starting whistle was still echoing through Red Bull Arena when the Crew scored the game’s first goal. Dominic Oduro and Eddie Gaven forced the New York defense into some clumsy mistakes, and Oduro was able to poke a loose ball past the onrushing Luis Robles in the second minute.
Oduro’s goal came at a heavy price, however. Oduro and Robles collided as Oduro tapped the ball home, with Robles’ knee colliding with Oduro’s right thigh. The Ghanian forward tried to continue, but was forced to withdraw in the eighth minute. Second year forward Aaron Schoenfeld replaced him.
On the defensive side of the ball, center backs Eric Gehrig and Kevan George had their hands full almost from the opening whistle. New York frequently attacked the right side of the Crew’s midfield and back line, with Thierry Henry a constant presence around the penalty area.
For most of the first half, George and Gehrig proved up to the task – but their luck ran out in the 31st minute. Tim Cahill launched a long, searching pass from midfield that found Henry in space between George and Gehrig – the former having made the poor decision to try and head the ball clear but missing contact. Henry let the ball bounce in front of him before delicately chipping a shot over Andy Gruenebaum, who knew immediately that he had no chance for a save.
Moments later Henry broke free again, but this time he found himself with an impossible angle by the time he rounded Gruenebaum, and his shot rolled harmlessly through the goal mouth, shepherded to safety by Gehrig.
The Crew had a quality chance to restore their one-goal lead late in the first half, but Justin Meram pulled his shot wide of the goal after Higuain found him with a defense-splitting pass in the 43rd minute.
Fabian Espindola became more assertive during the game’s second half, popping up on the Crew’s left flank to balance the threat posed by Thierry Henry. At the other end of the field the trio of Higuain, Sanchez and Tchani attempted to build attacks but were generally unable to pin New York into a defensive posture. Eddie Gaven and Higuain were the most noticeable Columbus attackers, although every player had his moments of opportunity.
Warzycha began making changes near the hour mark, surprisingly pulling Aaron Schoenfeld in favor of Ben Speas in the 62nd minute.
Espindola nearly gave New York a lead in the 64th minute, but his header directly in front of goal floated up and over the crossbar. Columbus roared up field in a counter attack, but Meram’s shot was blocked and Speas was unable to leap on the rebound before Robles fell on the ball.
Meram had a chance to make amends for his first-half miss in the 74th minute, receiving a pass from Higuain near the penalty spot. He appeared to mis-hit his shot but was bowled over from behind by Kosuke Kimura, and referee Geoff Gamble pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Television replays seemed to indicate that Meram had already played the ball before Kosuke made contact, but Higuain took full advantage with a powerfully struck penalty that restored the Crew’s advantage.
That lead lasted into stoppage time, including a dramatic goal line clearance from Kevan George in the 86th minute. Unfortunately the team was victimized in the 91st minute, giving up an equalizing goal to Jamison Olave. New York unsettled an increasingly desperate Columbus defense as the game wound to a close, and Olave took full advantage – receiving a cross from Jonny Steele and touching the ball back against George’s desperate recovery before slamming a shot home through a gap.
Minutes later New York had a chance to secure all three points, but Eric Gehrig and Danny O’Rourke each had last-gasp clearances to prevent what would have been a winning goal.
What it means
The tie gives the Crew four points from their two-game road trip, including last weekend’s 1-0 win in Toronto. The team’s overall record is 4-4-4, their 16 points tied with New England in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
New York has 25 points and the conference lead, although they have played at least one game more than each of their rivals (three more than the Crew). They lead Montreal by two points, although the Impact have played four fewer games.
Columbus returns home next Saturday for a game against the Houston Dynamo, then travels to Philadelphia on Wednesday. New York will host Vancouver next weekend, then take several weeks off before travelling to Philadelphia on June 23rd.
Timeline of events
2′ 1-0 Dominic Oduro (unassisted)
6′ Corner kick, New York (right side – caught by Gruenebaum)
8′ Aaron Schoenfeld replaces Dominic Oduro
8′ Corner kick, New York (right side – headed clear by Gaven)
16′ Corner kick, New York (right side – headed clear by Wahl)
28′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – punched clear by Robles)
31′ 1-1 Thierry Henry (Tim Cahill)
34′ Corner kick, New York (right side – headed shot saved by Gruenebaum)
41′ Caution, Matias Sanchez
55′ Corner kick, New York (left side – headed by Crew)
60′ Juninho Pernambucano replaces Dax McCarty
62′ Ben Speas replaces Aaron Schoenfeld
66′ Caution, Juninho Pernambucano (late tackle on Eddie Gaven)
74′ Penalty kick, Kosuke Kimura foul on Justin Meram
74′ 2-1 Federico Higuain (penalty)
75′ Loyd Sam replaces Eric Alexander
76′ Caution, Kevan George (foul on Fabian Espindola)
78′ Corner kick, New York (right side 0 punched by Gruenebaum)
79′ Danny O’Rourke replaces Matias Sanchez
82′ Corner kick, New York (right side – headed clear by O’Rourke)
85′ Corner kick, New York (left siide – cleared off the line by Kevan George)
91+’ 2-2 Jamison Olave (Jonny Steele)
Andy Gruenebaum, Josh Williams, Eric Gehrig, Kevan George, Tyson Wahl, Matias Sanchez (Danny O’Rourke 79′), Tony Tchani, Eddie Gaven, Justin Meram, Federico Higuain, Dominic Oduro (Aaron Schoenfeld 8′ (Ben Speas 62′))
Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Konrad Warzycha, Ethan Finlay
Luis Robles, Kosuke Kimura, Markus Holgersson, Jamison Olave, Heath Pearce, Eric Alexander (Loyd Sam 75′), Tim Cahill, Dax McCarty (Juninho Pernambucano 60′), Jonny Steele, Fabian Espindola, Thierry Henry
Santiago Castano, Roy Miller, Connor Lade, Marius Obekop, Brandon Barklage