The Columbus Crew entered Saturday night's match with the New York Red Bulls looking for their first win in the month of April. The final result - a 1-1 draw - was the same as their recent score lines, but the approach was much different.
Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said this week that he didn't expected New York, with all of their offensive weapons, to adapt absorption style of Columbus Crew Stadium's recent visitors and he was correct.
After playing on Wednesday night, it was apparent the Red Bulls were looking for an early goal and they certainly had their chances. Within the opening 10 minutes, New York's Eric Alexander got in behind the Crew defense twice - forcing Steve Clark to come off his line and make big saves - and Thierry Henry saw his shot go just over the crossbar.
The Columbus defense began to settle in and the Red Bulls began to let off their early press.
17 minutes in, Crew left back Waylon Francis found himself in possession centrally and released a left footed shot that forced the first save of the night from Luis Robles.
Robles was forced into another save in just four minutes when Black and Gold forward Jairo Arrieta played a ball on the ground to teammate Federico Higauin. The Argentinian's shot was high, but forced Robles to punch over the crossbar nonetheless.
The Crew continued to possess and apply pressure and it finally paid off in the 38th minute. Winger Hector Jimenez took the ball to the end line and delivered a dangerous cross that found the head of the opposite winger Justin Meram. Meram's effort clanged off the crossbar, but the official pointed to the spot as Columbus' number 9 was pulled down.
To the surprise of many in attendance, Arrieta stepped up to take the ensuing penalty kick over Higuain, but the striker made good on the attempt, burying the shot off the crossbar to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
The Black and Gold had a chance to double their lead before the break, as Higuain played a corner-like free kick into the box that found the head of central defender Michael Parkhurst, but his downward header went wide of Robles' goal.
After the halftime break, both teams found opportunities early on. After an awkward bounce off a defender's foot, Henry took a half volley that forced another big save from Clark. Arrieta had a chance just minutes later at the opposite end, drilling his shot off the near post.
In the 66th minute, the Red Bulls finally pulled level with a strike from the red hot Bradley Wright-Phillips. Sam played a diagonal ball into the box and the big forward turned and hit a shot off the far post that found its way over the line for the equalizer and his fifth goal in three games.
Berhalter went for the win, bringing on Dominic Oduro and Eathan Finlay as the match wore on.
The Crew were forced wide by New York and sent in several crosses, finally finding Arrieta in front of goal. The forward was not able to control the initial touch and eventually sent his shot wide.
Four minutes of stoppage time brought hope of more late-game heroics for the 18,026 in attendance, but it was not meant to be for the Black and Gold who could only muster a draw for the third straight game.
The Crew will now take to the road for four of their next six matches. This begins next Sunday, as they travel to take on Sporting Kansas City.