It all may have been because of a FC Dallas red card in the 63rd minute, but the Columbus Crew came back from an early deficit to win the Lamar Hunt Pioneer Cup on Saturday night, 2-1.
The Crew used their same starting XI from the Portland game last weekend. Emilio Renteria started up top with Ethan FInlay. Dallas lined up in a 4-4-2.
Both teams had multiple chances to score in the early minutes. Dallas had the first good chance of the match seven minutes in. A Jackson cross from the right wing found Fabian Castillo, who slid in past Crew right-back Sebastian Miranda. Castillo's right-footed volley went just wide of the right post.
A minute later, Renteria almost put Columbus on the board with a right-footed shot that bounced and skipped before Dallas goalie Chris Seitz parried it wide. In the 10th minute, Dallas midfielder Brek Shea's attempt from outside the box went just wide. Two minutes after that, Crew midfielder Milovan Mirosevic struck a long-distance shot with the outside of his right boot that ended up fizzing just past the top-right corner.
More after the jump...After hinting at scoring for a while, Dallas finally took the lead in the 22nd minute on a terrible error by the Crew's Tony Tchani. Castillo received the ball on the left side of midfield, right in front of the Crew's bench. Thinking the ball had gone out of bounds, Tchani stopped playing and raised his hand in an attempt to get the referee to award a throw in to Columbus. Instead, Castillo dribbled right past him and all the way into the box. He dragged the ball onto his left foot, and slotted it past Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum. Gruenebaum managed to get a touch on the ball, but he couldn't deter it from reaching the back of the net.
Right before the half, Ethan Finlay received an elbow to the side of the head. He was shaken up for quite some time, and had to be helped off the field. He was later diagnosed with a concussion. Justin Meram came on for Finlay. Eddie Gaven moved up to play forward, and Meram took over the left-mid position.
The Crew had the first good opportunity to score in the second half after seven minutes. Renteria slotted a low cross across the box, but Meram's lunging legs were just a split second too late from reaching the ball and hitting it into the goal.
Dallas had already started their attempts to waste time and seem determined to play out the rest of the game for a 1-0 victory. However, in the 63rd minute, after some clever footwork by Meram, Zach Lloyd received his second yellow of the game for a second high elbow. The dangerous play would prove to be very costly for Dallas.
Columbus didn't waste time in taking advantage of playing with an extra man. Four minutes later, Meram collected the ball in the center of the field. He took a few touches toward goal before unleashing a low, hard shot from outside the box. The ball flew past Seitz and right into the bottom-left corner of the net for Meram's first goal for the Crew.
Milovan Mirosevic almost scored his second of the season in the 71st. Eddie Gaven turned in the box and lofted a pass to Mirosevic on the right side. Mirosevic ripped a volley that unfortunately went right to Seitz, who was able to palm it over the bar.
On the subsequent corner, Nemanja Vukovic drilled the ball to Sebastian Miranda. Miranda met the ball at the top of the box with a header which went all the way to the bottom-left corner of the goal, beating Seitz. It was the farthest headed goal I've ever seen in person, and Miranda seemed just as shocked as the 11,120 fans in attendance.
The Crew saw out the last remaining twenty minutes to keep the Pioneer Cup trophy in Columbus until the two teams face off again next season.