Crew SC had prepared well against the Red Bulls press and developed a plan to push numbers into the attack bypassing the initial pressure. The move by Gregg Berhalter paid dividends as Columbus was able to exploit mismatches all over the field and create several great goal scoring opportunities.
The Red Bulls hemmed in Columbus initially as they camped out in the Columbus defensive half for the first 10 minutes, but Crew SC unleashed their first real chance a minute later with Ricardo Clark, starting for the away on national team duty Wil Trapp, sending in a driven ball through to Gyasi Zardes. The forward cut the ball back and sent a pass to Artur. The Brazilian’s shot forced an excellent parry by Luis Robles.
Columbus would have another great chance in the 15th minute after another counter forced a Red Bull foul. Pedro Santos, making his first start since an injury shortened start on May 12th, sent in a left footed shot that rings the crossbar. The home side was unable to get the ball before the chance ended.
It was all Black & Gold again in the 24th minute when Mike Grella took an Artur pass and drove through the spread New York midfield and found Federico Higuain. The ball was swung out wide to Artur, but his shot was saved easily.
The breakthrough came moments later when Harrison Afful found space on the right and dribbled nearly the length of the field before a one-two pass with Higuain. Afful cut the ball back with a perfect cross by the touchline and found Zardes. The forward hammered home his tenth goal to put Crew SC up 1-0.
Columbus had two more chances in quick succession, but a foul on Zardes ended a promising chance in the box and Robles came up big on another close range Zardes shot off an early cross from Afful in the 37th minute.
It wasn’t the last chance for the home side as Zardes hit the post in first half stoppage time off a corner kick. It was the last of Crew SC’s 15 shots of the half.
The second half was a different story. New York came out with renewed energy and switched to a back three that shift the game. The Red Bulls were on the front foot for the first 15 minutes as they pressured the Crew SC backline into several dangerous turnovers.
Bradley Wright-Phillips fired off a dangerous shot after a turnover, forcing a Josh Williams block. Conner Lade sent a shot over minutes later while Alex Muyl forced Jon Kempin into a save in the 49th minute.
The visitors would get their well deserved breakthrough off a set piece in the 57th minute. Marc Rzatkowski served up a dangerous free kick that dropped just outside the six yard box. Kempin was unable to get to the ball in time and Muyl buried the shot to tie the game.
Columbus was able to settle down and limit the New York chances after the goal, but the damage was done. The Red Bulls had their comeback and started to flag.
The impending storm further changed the game. The wind rose steadily throughout the second half and by the 70th minute there were significant gusts. The limited both teams. In a game that had 30 combined shots, only one, a long range Sosa effort, came after the 75th minute.
Back Three (x2)
Jesse Marsch’s move to a back three at halftime put Crew SC in a bind. They couldn’t play as wide with New York’s wingbacks pushing into that space and the backline was forced into several one v. one situations. The Red Bulls put several shots on goal as Columbus adjusted. Gregg Berhalter matched in the 76th minute as he swapped Jonathan Mensah for Mike Grella. The visitors weren’t able to create another shot.
Crew SC has six shots on target. They all came in the first half. New York Red Bulls had four shots on target. All of their’s came in the second. It was a game of two halves.
It’s a short turnaround against the best team in the league coming on Wednesday at 7:30 pm at MAPFRE Stadium. Crew SC and Atlanta United have played some tightly contested game, including the epic wild card game in last year’s playoffs. Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp will be back and may play a part to provide reinforcements for the busy Black & Gold