For the first time since October 11 of last year, Columbus Crew SC won a match on Wednesday after conceding the first goal. Of course, they did have 89 minutes and 25 seconds plus stoppage time to mount a comeback.
The New England Revolution's Lee Nguyen picked up the ball in the middle of the field and dribbled uncontested into the attacking third before firing a shot to give his team the 1-0 advantage.
According to the Crew SC players, this woke the team up and less than four minutes later the game was level thanks to a Kei Kamara header. The striker then gave his team the lead, and subsequently the victory, in the 50th minute.
"I think we talked before the game about managing the game," head coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. "No matter what happens - we go down a goal, we go up a goal, it stays tied - manage the game. And I think after that happened, it didn't really affect us. Obviously it affected the score line, but the guys kept going and kept playing and seemed to settle in nicely.
"You saw New England last week in D.C., they scored first, they lost 2-1. So you have to stay focused and don't let that negative event affect you too much."
Before this match, Columbus had allowed the first goal seven times this season and was 0-6-1 in those matches.
After earning the first road win of 2015 last week, a 3-1 U.S. Open Cup victory over the Richmond Kickers, the Black & Gold are beginning to buck trends that have hurt the team this season, something Berhalter takes pride in.
"I'm extremely proud of this group tonight for responding after going down, and coming back and getting the win and then holding on when we are under pressure."
Steve Clark's No. 50
One of Gregg Berhalter's first moves in charge of Crew SC was bringing in goalkeeper Steve Clark from Hønefoss BK. Clark played every MLS minutes in his first year with Columbus and has done the same in 2015.
Wednesday night's game marked the 50th appearance in the Black & Gold's net for Clark in a year and a half.
Clark made three saves in the game, allowing the early goal, but coming up big for Columbus after that. As usual, the goalkeeper was a major factor in keeping the defense organized with his communication.
"Steve was good," Berhalter said postgame. "Steve was really good. I think very secure."
Clark hasn't had the best performances of late, conceding two or more goals in seven straight games before last week's 1-1 draw with the LA Galaxy and not looking like his usual self. Last night was different according to Berhalter.
"He needed a performance like that and he got it," he said of his goalkeeper. "I like the calmness, I like catching everything, holding everything. It was a strong performance from him tonight."
What's best of all is after the match, Clark got to celebrate the win with the Nordecke in typical "Yes!" fashion.
Where Have all the P.K.s Gone?
Federico Higuain has four goals this season, but none of them have come from the penalty spot. It's not because Higuain missed his attempts, but because he hasn't gotten the opportunity.
Crew SC are one of two MLS teams not to be awarded a penalty kick this season after getting nine called last year. And here we sit at the end of June with the team having played 16 games.
"We haven't gotten a penalty all year, which is odd," Berhalter said. "I'm not commenting at all on the referees, but I just think that it's odd that we have a lot of chances, created a lot of shots and no penalty kicks. So that's curious to me. I think we're probably due one."
The Black & Gold players felt they should have had one in the second half of Wednesday's game when Justin Meram's touch bounced up and came off the moving hand of Revolution defender Jeremy Hall. Referee Fotis Bazakos waived no call and Columbus went without a penalty kick once again.
Alls well that ends well, as less than a minute later Kamara scored to put Crew SC up 2-1.
2 v. 3, Advantage 2
After the match, Gregg Berhalter was asked about the play of his two central midfielders, Mohammed Saeid and Tony Tchnai. The head coach was impressed with how they battled on the night.
"It was a tough game for them," he said. "They played against three players, so it wasn't easy and I thought they did well. I thought Tony in particular was moving the ball pretty quickly, and Mohammed is fearless."
New England played with Daigo Kobayashi and Scott Caldwell as holding midfielders and Lee Nguyen in front of them.
With the way Federico Higuain roams during the match, it left Saeid and Tchani at a numerical disadvantage, but it never appeared so throughout the course of the game.
Doctor of Defense
In the 66th minute, defender Chad Barson checked into the match for Hector Jimenez, who picked up a small injury. It was only the fourth appearance of the year for the local product, but he impressed with some nice defensive plays.
Gregg Berhalter has said before that the staff does not hesitate to use Barson to close out games, but reiterated that after the match.
"We value him and his ability to help close out games," he stated. "He's tenacious on defense, he has a great spirit. Hector got a little bit of a pull and so we had to make the change. There is no hesitation there at all. He knows his role, he knows what to do and he did a great job. He made a big play at the end also, big play on that header."
@_Pat_Murphy_ He does have his doctorate in defense.— Ben Ferree (@ben_ferree) June 25, 2015
No Handball, From the Horses Mouth
There was a bit of controversy on Crew SC's second goal. Waylon Francis played a cross to the back post where Ethan Finlay brought it down and found Kamara open in front of the net for the goal and Finlay's league-leading ninth assist of the season.
The Revolution players appealed for a hand ball on Finlay and stopped defending, allowing an even easier finish for Kamara.
After the match, I asked the winger if the ball hit his gut and he told me it did. He explained with a smile that if the ball struck his hand, the play would have gone the other way.