With the season nearly slipping away, Crew SC let two points slip in dramatic fashion, letting dominance slip, going down a goal, overturning the deficit, throwing it away, before grabbing a point deep into stoppage time. It was a microcosm of the season.
Crew SC found their footing early in the first half with several chances to break through that were missing the final pass. Ethan Finlay found a lot of success on the right side, but none of it with a chance to open the scoring as the NYCFC rearguard was able to clear the danger before Columbus had any quality chances. Crew SC got off seven shots in the first half, only one on target.
It was the visitors that would break through. Crew SC's terrible set piece defending struck again as Andrea Pirlo would strike a beauty off a free kick that Steve Clark was able to parry out, but Frank Lampard would break into the box free and easily convert the chance.
The first half is the same story: dominance in every part of the game, but the scoreboard as Columbus trailed as the teams went into the locker room.
With faint playoff hoped resting on home wins, Crew SC began the second half strong with a quick goal. Waylon Francis got the ball on the left side and drove in a perfect cross. Meram rose and headed the ball to tie the game and restore a glimmer of hope to the Columbus playoff chances with over 40 minutes to grab a lead.
Neither team was able to grab the initiative either due to the lingering heat, stifling humidity, torrential rain, or combination. Both sides were sluggish as neither were able to create too much danger as the game rolled deeper into the second half. Only Harrison Afful's long distance crossbar skimming shot in the 67th minute came close to breaking the deadlock.
As fatigue set in, the game opened up. Crew SC once again found space behind a slowing New York defense and Meram would create the moment to grab all three points. In the 78th minute, he would slot in a pass into the box finding Finlay. He would clip a shot on goal as he was brought down. Referee Sorin Stoica awarded the penalty and Finlay finished to give Columbus the lead in the 80th minute.
Crew SC has struggled to hold on to leads all year and they wobbled again just three minutes later. New York would strike off a defensive breakdown as the offside line broke and Pirlo sent in a perfect ball that David Villa easily finished to tie the game.
The collapse was complete two minutes into stoppage time. Steven Mendoza whipped in a cross that clipped Afful's arm. Stoica pointed to the spot and Villa beat Clark to give New York the lead into stoppage time.
With another loss looming, Columbus was able to conjure late magic. The home side pushed numbers forward. Adam Jahn pushed a Hector Jimenez pass forward. Ola Kamara fired a shot that forced a save from Josh Saunders. Finlay settled over the rebound and fired a shot through the amassed defense to tie the game just before the final whistle.
With the tie, Crew SC remain seven points out of the playoffs as D.C. United overtook the New England Revolution for 6th place. Columbus is now 3-8-11 and has 20 points on the season. They face off against the Revolution in Foxboro with a chance to notch their first win in nine tries and record their first road win at the same time. Crew SC's faint playoff hopes are riding on it.