Columbus Crew SC faced off against the hometown team Charleston Battery in the team’s second matchup of the 2019 Carolina Challenge Cup. The Black & Gold put what has to be considered a second-string lineup out against This was a match that saw many chances and a slippery surface that took its toll on both teams, ultimately ending in a 1-1 draw.
Columbus nearly scored in the seventh minute when winger Robinho received a pass from attacking midfielder Eduardo Sosa. The newcomer’s shot just nearly missed the far post, and would have put Columbus in the lead.
A few minutes later, Columbus was awarded a free kick a few yards outside the 18-yard box. Robinho took the set piece but just missed the back of the net as the ball hit the post and went out for a goal kick.
The Battery got on the board first when a 26th minute corner kick found the head of Ian Svantesson and gave the Battery a 1-0 lead. Svantesson lost both Ricardo Clark and Lalas Abubakar and headed home the set play.
Defender Josh Williams played his first action of the preseason, getting the start, after dealing with plantar fasciitis. The center back saw 30 minutes of the game before he was replaced by Alex Crognale. This was a pre-planned substitute by head coach Caleb Porter. Winger Niko Hansen was also substituted just before halftime, replacing by second-year player Edward Opoku. Like with Williams, this change was decided ahead of the match.
As the second half progessed, Charleston pressured Columbus, forcing the Black & Gold to play out of the back more. They pulled level when Opoku found Robinho in the center of the penalty area, and was able to slip the ball into the back of the net, just before the halftime whistle.
Columbus started the second half strong, with Robinho attacking on goal, trying to return the favor to Opoku but couldn’t get the pass past the Battery goalkeeper.
Both teams went back and forth throughout the second half, with limited chances being created. Both teams made a handful of substitutes as they tried to grab a winner and get players fit for the start of the season.
There was a great chance for Columbus to take the lead, as midfielder Luis Argudo took a shot that deflected and went towards goal. Upon multiple replays, the ball seemed to cross the end line, but the center official and far side assistant referee wave the goal off. The tournament does have Video Assistant Replay, and is to be used at the officials discretion.
Columbus dominated the final half hour of the second half, with draft pick JJ Williams, who came on for starter Patrick Mullins, almost grabbing the game winner with his shot that hit the crossbar and out for a goal kick.
Charleston had a few good looks on goal, but couldn’t convert as the score remained 1-1 until the final whistle.
Robinho Shines In Draw
New signee Robinho definitely shined in the match. His goal at the end of the first half gave Columbus the momentum they needed to start the second half on the right foot. With his ability and pace, he was able to get space on the wings multiple times and create chances that were good looks for the Crew.
As mentioned before, the Caroline Challenge Cup has implemented VAR. In a crucial moment as Columbus look to repeat as champions for the third consecutive time, Argudo’s shot deflected towards goal and looked on replay to at least deserve a second look. If the Black & Gold don’t repeat as champions, this could be look back on as a reason why. Most would say it was bold for the center official to take his assistants word, but the play should’ve went to video review.
Columbus close out the tournament with a preseason installment of the Hell Is Real derby, facing newly minted Major League Soccer side FC Cincinnati this Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. ET.