The Columbus Crew misfired their way to a 1-1 draw with the Houston Dynamo on Saturday night, a Federico Higuain penalty kick masking a host of scoring chances not converted. While the club can claim a three-game unbeaten streak, their record of 4-4-5 (W-L-T) leaves them in danger of falling to seventh place in the Eastern Conference after tomorrow’s games conclude.
Columbus, playing without midfielder Eddie Gaven – injured in Wednesday’s 2-1 win over Dayton in the Open Cup – was able to create numerous scoring chances but were unable to capitalize.
The chances started as early as the second minute, when Federico Higuain’s pass through the defense released Jairo Arrieta on goal. Before the Costa Rican could pull the trigger, however, former Columbus defender Eric Brunner slid in to block the ball.
Three more offensive surges in the opening fifteen minutes set up a frustrating pattern, as Dominic Oduro, Higain and Justin Meram all had the ball in dangerous positions in the Houston penalty area. Only Higuain was able to take a shot, and the Argentine’s effort was shanked off target.
Columbus were handed a break in these opening minutes when Brunner was forced from the game with an injury. Rookie Anthony Arena, who made his professional debut on Tuesday in the Open Cup, came on for his first taste of league play in the 20th minute.
Against the run of play, but continuing a trend this season, the Crew found themselves after a defensive breakdown in the 31st minute. A turnover on the left touch line released Kofi Sarkodie in space on the left channel, giving him time to pick out Warren Creavalle in the area. Creavalle, who had found a seam of space between defenders, was unmarked and able to flick the ball into the far side netting.
Jairo Arrieta nearly equalized for the Crew in the 38th minute, but stellar goalkeeper kept the score at 1-0. His acrobatic shot on the turn appeared to be bouncing inside the far post, but Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall was able to scramble back and punch the ball off the line.
Columbus had another handful of scoring chances minutes later, including a pair of shots from Higuain and Arrieta – but each time Hall was equal to the task.
Houston was forced into another injury substitution in the closing moment of the first half when Adam Moffat – another former Columbus player – had to withdraw. He was relieved by Luiz Camargo.
Columbus stumbled early in the second half, knocked on their heels by loose touches and effective organization in the Houston midfield. Despite several Dynamo corner kicks and a goalmouth scramble, however, the visitors were unable to increase their advantage.
Chad Barson, making his first professional start in place of the injured Josh Williams, drew a penalty kick in the 69th minute that threw the team a lifeline. Cutting into the area from top of the right channel, he was fouled from behind by Andrew Driver. Referee Allen Chapman did not hesitate in pointing to the spot, where Higuain shot powerfully down the middle to bring the teams level.
Justin Meram squandered a glorious opportunity to put the Crew ahead in the 74th minute. Higuain curled a shot over the defense and past Tally Hall, but the ball caromed back into play – where Meram, crashing the goal, could only watch helplessly as the ball bounced off of him and out of bounds from inside the six-yard box.
Ben Speas replaced Meram immediately after this gaffe, and Konrad Warzycha and Aaron Schoenfeld also made substitute appearances in the game’s closing minutes. Each were active in the limited time available, but ultimately none were able to push the Crew over the last hurdle and into a second goal. Warzycha had the game’s final scoring chance, sending a header over the crossbar in injury time.
What it means
The draw is the Crew’s third in six home games this season, with only a single victory in that span. The club’s 17 points puts them in 6th place, two behind the Philadelphia Union, but New England can leapfrog Columbus should they defeat Los Angeles on Sunday.
Houston, meanwhile, have 22 points from a 6-4-4 record. They sit three points behind New York, tied with Kansas City in third place in the Eastern Conference.
Columbus will play their next two games on the road, both in midweek contests. First up is a trip to Philadelphia on June 5th, followed by an Open Cup game in Chicago a week later. Their next home game in league play will be in two weeks, against leaders Montreal.
Houston’s next two games will be against Canadian opposition, but not until after a two-week break. Their next league game will be at Montreal on June 19th, followed by a home game against Toronto on the 22nd.
Timeline of events
3′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – foul called)
20′ Anthony Arena replaces Eric Brunner
26′ Corner kick, Houston (right side – too long)
31′ 0-1 Warren Creavalle (Kofi Sarkodie)
42′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – caught by Hall)
44′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – cleared)
45′ Luiz Camargo replaces Adam Moffat
47+’ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – shot deflected)
51′ Corner kick, Houston (right side – goalmouth scramble, foul called)
53′ Corner kick, Houston (left side – too long)
54′ Corner kick, Houston (right side – headed clear)
54′ Caution, Luiz Camargo (professional foul on Dominic Oduro)
61′ Corner kick, Houston (left side – too long)
65′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – header deflected)
69′ Penalty kick, Andrew Driver trips Chad Barson on right corner of penalty area
69′ 1-1 Federico Higuain (penalty kick)
71′ Corner kick, Houston (left side – caught by Gruenebaum)
74′ Ben Speas replaces Justin Meram
77′ Caution, Andrew Driver (professional tackle on Chad Barson)
80′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – cleared)
84′ Mike Chabala replaces Giles Barnes
88′ Aaron Schoenfeld replaces Dominic Oduro
88′ Konrad Warzycha replaces Tony Tchani
91+’ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – played out)
91+’ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – headed over by Warzycha)
Andy Gruenebaum, Chad Barson, Eric Gehrig, Glauber, Tyson Wahl, Matias Sanchez, Tony Tchani (Konrad Warzycha 88′), Dominic Oduro (Aaron Schoenfeld 88′), Justin Meram (Ben Speas 74′), Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta
Matt Lampson, Kevan George, Danny O’Rourke, Ethan Finlay
Tally Hall, Kofi Sarkodie, Ricardo Clark, Eric Brunner (Anthony Arena 20′), Corey Ashe, Creavalle, Adam Moffat (Luiz Camargo 45′), Giles Barnes (Mike Chabala 84′), Johnson, Will Bruin, Andrew Driver
Tyler Deric, Brian Ching, Alex Dixon, Brian Ownby