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Columbus Crew SC win international friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt

The Black & Gold continued to be dominant in exhibition matches.

After 13 days away from game action, Columbus Crew SC returned to the pitch, welcoming German Bundesliga side, Eintracht Frankfurt to MAPFRE Stadium for an international friendly.

Despite playing at a higher level, the Eagles were unable to breakdown the Black & Gold, leading to a 1-0 win for the home side.

Not surprisingly, the team in the middle of its league season, Crew SC, came out the stronger of the two sides.

Just four minutes into the match, center back Jonathan Mensah got his head to a Columbus corner and put the first shot of the game on goal. Unfortunately for Jonathan, that shot was right at goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky, who made the save with relative ease.

Two minutes later, midfielder Kekuta Manneh picked up a ball in the attacking third and, after driving at the Frankfurt defense, fired a shot that required a diving save from Hradecky.

As the Eagles began to settle into the match, the Black & Gold took the lead.

The play began with a good pass from midfielder Wil Trapp that allowed teammate Cristian Martinez to turn on David Abraham. The 20 year old used his speed to leave the defender behind before sending a low cross into striker Ola Kamara in which he finished first time for the 1-0 advantage.

A second half that began with seven changes by the home side took some time to get going.

Left back Waylon Francis had an opportunity to double the lead when a cross found him at the back post. Francis’ shot was blocked by a sliding defender and the chance went for nothing.

Over the final half an hour, after beginning to get fresh legs into the match, Frankfurt started to create some chances.

In the 63rd minute, there was a low cross driven into the Crew SC penalty box and Sebastian Haller appeared to be in the right place for a tap in. But the forward could not get a touch on the ball to direct the equalizer home.

It was midfielder Max Besuschkow who nearly leveled the game in the 83rd minute. Some nifty footwork got him in behind the Columbus defense, but Black & Gold goalkeeper Brad Stuver got down to save the effort and preserve the victory.

Head coach Gregg Berhalter following Columbus Crew SC's 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.

Posted by Massive Report on Monday, July 17, 2017

Undefeated

With this win over Eintracht Frankfurt, Crew SC maintains an undefeated and untied record against German clubs in international friendlies.

The Black & Gold defeated Hamburger SV 4-2 in 2000, Frankie Hejuduk’s Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in 2001 and 1. FC Nurnberg 7-2 in 2002. Add in this 1-0 result and you’ve got an unblemished record.

Youngsters galore

Games like this provide head coach Gregg Berhalter with an opportunity to experiment a bit with the lineup, something he doesn’t have the luxury to do in Major League Soccer matches. With this, comes the chance to play guys who don’t get regular minutes.

On Monday, two benefactors of that were Crisitan Martinez and midfielder Abuchi Obinwa.

Martinez played in fives games for Columbus in 2016 — 197 minutes — and scored one goal, but this was his first competitive game action this season. Martinez went 90 minutes and had the assist on the lone goal.

Obinwa made his Black & Gold debut after he was signed in January. The 20-year-old Westerville native got his first chance to step on the field at MAPFRE Stadium, playing for 23 minutes and holding his own.

Lalas Abubakar also got the start, seeing action over the first 45 minutes. This followed up his debut in the last MLS contest for Crew SC, a 1-0 win over Minnesota United, where he also started the full match.

Found a formation

Along with playing some young players, Berhalter was again able to employ the three-man backline. This was a variation on the formation Columbus has used four times this year, with a 2-2-0 record.

It also marks the first time Berhalter has used it in two consecutive games — also played that style against Minnesota — and the first time the Black & Gold have gone to three in the back at home.

Aside from about a 15-minute stretch in total — late in the games against Toronto FC and the Colorado Rapids — this formation has worked well for Crew SC and helped much of the defensive issues the team has faced in the traditional 4-4-1-1.

What’s next

Columbus return to MLS action on Saturday when the Philadelphia Union come to MAPFRE.

The Union currently sit in eighth place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind the Black & Gold. Philadelphia will have to travel to take on the Montreal Impact on Wednesday, which means a fresh Crew SC will face a tired Union side.