The Columbus Crew found the goals they had been searching for in the pacific northwest after three consecutive shutouts, but their defensive strength was called into question on Saturday night's 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers.
Despite playing with a man advantage for the majority of the match after second-year Timber Alvas Powell was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Chad Barson, the Black and Gold twice allowed Portland to come from behind late in the match.
The defensive issues began early, as the Timbers found far too much space in the Crew penalty area. Less than five minutes into the game, midfielder Steve Zakuani fed Maximiliano Urruti in the 18-yard box. The forward was able to turn and fire a shot passed Columbus goalkeeper Steve Clark for the early advantage.
Less than 10 minutes later, Federico Higuain demonstrated why he is the Crew's Designated Player to bring his team level. The forward received the ball near midfield and took his space. Seeing Timbers' goalkeeper Donavan Rickets off his line, Higuain sent a chip shot into the far side netting from well outside the 18.
Things began to turn against the home side in the 34th minute when the 19-year old Powell took a heavy touch and went in very late with a tackle on Barson in an attempt to win back the ball. The referee immediately issued a straight red card to the defender, sending him to an early shower.
In stoppage time at the end of the first half, the Black and Gold took a lead for the first time since March 26. Higuain sent a corner kick into the Timbers' box, looking for center back Giancarlo Gonzalez. The defender was tugged by Futty Danso and the official pointed to the spot.
Higuain stepped up and converted the spot kick, freezing Rickets with a stutter step and giving the Crew a 2-1 lead at the halftime break.
Despite being down a player, Portland continued to look for the equalizer. They almost pulled even in the 70th minute when Ben Zemanski got around Barson and sent a low cross that found Will Johnson. His one-time effort was saved by Clark and the rebound was headed away by Tyson Wahl to preserve the lead.
In the 80th minute, Johnson's hustle paid off. A long ball found outside back Jack Jewsbury, who's touch was knocked away by Columbus. The ball rolled to Johnson, who fired it past Clark for a 2-2 score line.
Just a minute later, Higuain found second half substitute Ethan Finlay wide in the Crew attacking third. The winger took on his defender and fired a shot from inside the box, which took a wicked deflection passed Rickets to make things 3-2.
Things weren't finished yet, as the Black and Gold conceded a set piece opportunity inside their own half. The delivery into the box found the head of new signing Fanendo Adi, who put it across goal and left Gaston Fernandez with an easy finish in the closing stages.
After losing three on the trot, the Crew will be glad to get a point in a hostile environment, but disappointed they couldn't return home with all three.
Columbus next welcomes rivals Chicago Fire to town on Saturday in an Eastern Conference clash. They will look to build off the goal scoring momentum of the Timbers' game to get the win in front of their home fans.