Looking to make amends in front of their home fans for their only defeat of the season, the Columbus Crew certainly didn't put themselves in a great position. The Crew had to battle back to earn a 1-1 draw against Eastern Conference rivals D.C. United, a team they beat 3-0 to open the campaign.
After a bright start to the match, the Black and Gold found themselves down 1-0 on a goal from Fabian Espindola that came against the run of play. After a Federico Higuain give away at midfield, Nick DeLeon drove to the top of the Crew penalty area before finding a wide open Espindola in the 18-yard box. The forward didn't hesitate, burying the shot past Columbus goalkeeper Steven Clark to give his team the lead.
This followed multiple near misses for the Crew. The best occurred in the 14th minute when Higuain played a well-waited ball over the top of the United defense to Josh Williams. The outside back, who had made a sneaky forward run, stuck out his leg in effort to redirect the cross, but ball went inches passed his outstretched limb.
Columbus almost found the equalizer just before the break. Forward Dominic Oduro raced forward on the counter attack and found Higuain on the outside of the penalty area. The Crew's number 10 dribbled into the box, but laid the ball off to Hector Jimenez whose shot narrowly missed from the top of the D.
The Black and Gold pushed numbers forward in the second half and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter brought on offensive reinforcements in the form of Jario Arrieta and Justin Meram in the 62nd minute to provide a chance of pace.
What was already a physical affair became controversial in the 71st minute. United forward Eddie Johnson beat both Columbus center backs and was on his way to goal when Giancarlo Gonzalez dragged him down at the top of the box.
While the official tried to settle things, a melee broke out in the goal mouth, beginning with a Bernardo Anor shove and escalating quickly. After the referees separated the players, Gonzalez was shown only a yellow card, despite denying a clear goal scoring opportunity - a red card by the law - and angering the D.C. players that much more.
Ten minutes later, United received some justice as Anor saw a straight red card after a two-footed challenge near midfield.
The 10-man Crew team did not cease with their attack despite being short-handed, continuing to look for a miracle equalizer.
The goal finally came in stoppage time, as two of the Black and Gold's young talent made plays of savvy veterans to earn the draw.
Espindola appeared set to ice the game in the 90th minute when he got in behind the Crew defense, but midfielder Wil Trapp anticipated his cut back at the top of the box, tackling the ball away. The second-year player took the ball to midfield before playing a gem to Jimenez out wide. The first-year Crew player cut to his right at the top of the box and curled a shot passed Andrew Dykstra to send Columbus Crew Stadium into hysteria.
This marks a third consecutive game Columbus has failed to register three points, after doing so in their first three matches of the season. United meanwhile extend their unbeaten streak to four games.
The Crew will remain home next week, looking for their second win of the season in friendly confines, as they welcome in the New York Red Bulls.