Columbus Crew SC kicked off a tough road trip week of the year with a 0-0 draw against the best in the West. Neither team was able to break down solid defense while the late summer heat slowed the game down.
The rare chances mostly happened in the first half. Michael Barrios nearly gave FC Dallas the lead in the 17th minute as the home side played direct. Santiago Mosquera drove a long ball across the field and Barros drove down on the Crew SC goal and ripped a shot from a tight angle, just outside the post.
Federico Higuain had the best chance in the first half in the 26th minute. Crew SC pushed forward in transition with Jonathan Mensah passing out of the back to Pedro Santos. The winger shook off a tackle and passed forward to Harrison Afful. Afful’s cross found Higuain. The Argentine took a touch away from the defender and ripped a shot that forced a full-stretch save from Jesse Gonzalez.
A Lalas Abubakar foul in the 33rd minute would set up another chance. Mosquera sized up the goal from 25 yards out, but it was an easy save by Zack Steffen to keep the game scoreless.
The heat took it’s toll in the second half. The game slowed down and not teams struggled with sharpness. Higuain, Justin Meram, and Pedro Santos struggled to link up with each other and with Zardes at forward. As a result the offense sputtered in midfield for much of the second half.
Crew SC would have a couple late chances that would create a bit of panic for the Dallas defense and both come from left sided crosses. In the 82nd minute, Columbus slipped past the Dallas midfield with Wil Trapp, in a substitute appearance, finding Meram on the left. His cross was volleyed across goal by Higuain, just missing the post and Zardes’ head.
Deep in stoppage time, it would be a Milton Valenzuela cross from the touchline that substitute Niko Hansen skied from a tight angle. It was the last action of the game.
Perhaps the best stretch of the night for Crew SC was the first 15 minutes. The team deployed an immediate press in the attacking zone. During that time, they made five recoveries in the offensive half of the field and added an interception. They were creating turnovers in bad spots for FC Dallas. In the remaining 75 minutes of the game, they had only four. A team like Columbus can only press for a short amount of time and they weren’t able to take full advantage of it and get a goal.
Substitutions (or lack of)
The temperature in Dallas had cooled to a more temperate lower 80s by game time, but the humidity was stifling. The players struggled with the conditions, especially in the 2nd half. Head coach Gregg Berhalter didn’t make his first change until the 74th minute. He replaced Pedro Santos and Rico Clark with Niko Hansen and Wil Trapp. He finally made his last sub, taking out a gassed Higuain for Patrick Mullins in the 86th minute. It was clear that the team was struggling as the second half progressed with Meram and Higuain struggling with their touch as they fatigued, however Berhalter waited to make a change until 15 minutes remained and Hansen, Trapp, and Mullins had little time to make the difference.
The tie moves Crew SC to 12 wins, 8 losses, and 8 ties on the year and 44 points. They remain safely in 4th place, five points behind NYCFC and four points ahead of the Philadelphia Union. Columbus will now travel directly to Portland for the Wednesday night matchup against the Timbers at 10:30 pm ET before returning home to Columbus to face Colorado next Saturday.