It was happening again. For the second time this season, Columbus Crew SC built a 4-1 second half lead and fans at MAPFRE Stadium watched as that lead diminished.
If it felt like recent déjà vu, that's because you only have to go back three weeks to see the first 4-1 lead of the year for the Black & Gold. That margin was overcome in the second half by the Montreal Impact, who gladly took a point after Crew SC's collapse.
When Real Salt Lake's Joao Plata scored in the 83rd minute to cut the lead to just one, the entire stadium had the same thought: Not again.
"You have to turn around and be as mentally tough as you possibly can, try to rally the group," Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp said of his thoughts after Plata's strike.
"You're up 4-1, and it's just concentration. A couple plays where we're not totally focused. It's not ideal. But those are things it's good to work on after you get a win. So it's a positive thing for us to look at."
Having something to work on wasn't the only positive from the game. For the first time since a 1-0 victory over the Houston Dynamo on April 23, the Black & Gold won a soccer match, this time holding on to the 4-3 score line.
"Three points is big," head coach Gregg Berhalter said. "Anytime you get three points it boosts your confidence. You can tell the group we're on the right track, keep going, keep pushing, but to really get that comfort you need to win. And I think part of it is the work you put in over the course of the weeks in training. You want to see the results. You want to see the outcome. And it's nice to get a win."
While the victory didn't move Crew SC up in the standings, it did allow the club to stay within striking distance of the teams in front of them and just two points out of fifth place in the Eastern Conference.
This match also marked the second time this season Columbus' offense has scored four goals. For a side that scored just five goals over the first six games of the season, seeing the ball go into the net is another positive.
"I was really happy with the offensive output in this game," Berhalter said. "We were creating a lot of good goal scoring chances, I think that's important. Looking at some of the discrepancies between last year and this year have been getting shots on goal and we had enough of them today to make a lot of goals, so I'm very pleased with that."
With 21 shots - nine on target - Columbus certainly created plenty of good scoring opportunities, which is a positive sign after the trade of last year's leading goal scorer Kei Kamara two and a half weeks back.
Seeing Kei's replacement, Ola Kamara, finish three times in the match is something the team was excited about as plenty of time on the training ground has been focused on getting comfortable with the new forward.
"I think you have to make an educated decision and watching Ola in training and watching his movements, we felt very comfortable," Berhalter said of the trade. "It's difficult for a striker when that pressure is put on you but Ola's been handling it extremely well."
Even defensively there were some optimistic takeaways. First, there was the penalty kick save by goalkeeper Steve Clark just before halftime that preserved a one-goal advantage at the break.
"Incredible. Incredible," Trapp said of the denial. "When you need a guy to stand up and be counted on, it was excellent. It saved us."
With a bit of a makeshift back line in front of him, Clark had to come up big for his team. With injuries to two center backs and Harrison Afful away on international duty, it meant starting a rookie center midfielder in the heart of the defense and a natural winger at right back.
Because of these forced changes, Berhalter wasn't ready to rate his defense after conceding three goals.
"I think judging the defensive performance, in a way isn't necessarily fair with some new guys in the backline and dealing with that," he said. "Having said that, I think we battled. To win games in this league, you have to battle, and we did that."
While it wasn't a perfect performance for Crew SC, it's a step in the right direction. The Black & Gold now have three wins on the season and look to build on the positives moving forward.
"We're happy to have a win," Berhalter said. "We're happy that we could've scored a lot of goals tonight. Obviously you're going to look at things. You're going to make improvements, and our goal is to just get better next game."