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Crew SC draw depleted Toronto at home, 1-1

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Columbus winless since May 28, as visiting Reds equalize just 10 minutes after conceding first blood to unlikely scorer

Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Columbus Crew SC's dearth of accumulated standings points continues to keep them in the cellar of the Eastern Conference standings.

A wide-open opportunity seemed there for the taking Wednesday night at MAPFRE Stadium, where the Black & Gold failed to put away a Toronto FC club that featured neither reigning league MVP Sebastian Giovinco nor U.S. Men's National Team stars Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley.

In a lackluster 1-1 draw, Crew SC was unable to convert its purported homefield advantage against a threadbare TFC roster for three points as the teams crossed the midpoint of their 34-game regular season campaigns.

Giovinco did not travel with the Canadian side, with head coach Greg Vanney opting to rest his Italian striker for the midweek match following a road win in Chicago this past Saturday.

Circumstantially, the lone bright spot for Columbus was that defender Harrison Afful finally found the back of the net after flirting with pay dirt all season long as a high-roaming outside threat.

The Ghanaian outside back—whose nimble footwork and pace along the right flank often afford him space from which to launch open play crosses in to attacking personnel—scored for Crew SC in the 54th minute of play.

In so doing, he finally became the resourceful attacker instead of just the strategic helper.

When TFC's Josh Williams attempted to clear a Columbus corner kick, taken by recently acquired Dilly Duka from the left side, Afful was able to corral the ball and volley it in from the right side of the penalty arc past a misshapen Toronto defense.

Afful had two promising shots in the match's first half, exhibiting his versatility of motion with the pair of attempts by sending one with each foot towards the far left goalpost. Both swooped wide, but he would not relent on trying to creatively find a way to propel his team forward.

Toronto players reacted visibly to forward Ola Kamara appearing offside on the Afful goal, but upon considering replay still frames, a Reds defender was in fact standing on the left side of the 18-yard box to keep Kamara onside by approximately one foot.

In a brutal display, Columbus only passed three successful open play crosses in, despite taking a total of 37 on the night.

Midfielder Ethan Finlay was subbed off at halftime for Cedrick Mabwati, triggering a Justin Meram swap from left wing to right wing. Head coach Gregg Berhalter said in a halftime interview that Kamara and Meram would get chances and score in the second half, but the move to later retool the offense when play reconvened spoke to his dissatisfaction with the unit's inconsistency in generating goalscoring opportunities.

Forward Jordan Hamilton leveled the score at 1-1 on an emphatic net-billowing 64th minute goal for Toronto FC.

Reds midfielder Jonathan Osorio had squandered what was frankly a gift-wrapped chance to score in the 48th minute when he whiffed the ball just wide of the left goalpost. Crew SC's backline had been caught scrambling to regain its shape in transition as efficient zigzag passing by TFC dissected things on the counter, but Osorio's miss meant it was all for nought.

Hamilton bailed Osorio out with his score later, and both players would make Columbus sweat further by each launching another shot for Toronto in the 82nd and 87th minutes, respectively.

Crew SC's record falls to 3-7-8, with Wednesday's tie being the fifth one-point home result the team has turned in thus far in 2016. On a quick turnaround, Columbus will host 5-7-6 D.C. United at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday and is slated to take on TFC once again in the decisive third and final leg of the Trillium Cup on July 31 at BMO Field in Toronto.