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Crew begin new era with draw with Red Bulls

Both sides get first half goals to begin the year.

Columbus Crew SC head coach Caleb Porter reflects on his team’s 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bull’s.

Posted by Massive Report on Saturday, March 2, 2019

The new era of Columbus Crew SC began with a home tie with the New York Red Bulls on Saturday night. An early goal from Andreas Ivan opened the scoring with a Gaston Sauro header closing out the finishing as both teams settled for a 1-1 tie.

The Red Bull lineup was a wholesale change from the midweek as they started eight reserves to focus on their upcoming Champions League matches against Santos. The changes didn’t slow the New York side.

The visitor broke through early. Waylon Francis turned the ball over and the Red Bulls turned the gift into a chance. Cristian Casseres passed to Florian Valot, who traded passes with Michael Murillo and found himself in space. Valot’s deep cross bent into the heart of the Crew penalty box where Ivan finished with a header to take a 1-0 lead in the sixth minute.

New York continued to frustrate the Crew as the Black & Gold struggled to break out of their half through the Red Bulls possession. Forced to shoot from distance, Columbus failed to get their first five shots on target.

The sixth Crew shot of the half found the target and the back of the net. Federico Higuain bent in a corner to the near post. Sauro crouched low to redirect the driven service and flipped the ball past, thanks in part to a deflection, Luis Robles to tie the game just before halftime.

Despite waiting nearly 45 minutes to get a shot on goal, Harrison Afful got into space and blasted a shot from 25 yards that forced a Robles parry for a corner. The Red Bulls saw out the half and the sudden Crew surge with both sides on a goal.

The second half got more physical, with the hard challenges growing more frequent and referee Ted Unkel having to work to keep the tempers from getting out of control.

The Crew created some danger in the 56th minute as Gyasi Zardes drove down the left channel with the ball. He centered towards Pedro Santos. The winger couldn’t convert the chance and then had a shot from distance in the 62nd minute that drifted a foot over the bar.

Neither side would gain the advantage as the second half continued. After Vincent Bezecourt’s 67th minute shot, neither team got off a shot for nearly 20 minutes.

Columbus had a couple late chances with Afful putting aclose-rangee shot on target from tight angle in stoppage time after a redirecting header from Higuain. Zardes had a chance from the goal line on the resulting corner kick, but Robles was able to smother the ball and end the chance.

Neither team would break through in the dying minutes and the points were shared.

Sauro the scorer

The Crew isn’t expecting a lot of goals from Sauro. Before this game he had three shots and no goals in his 24 games playing for Columbus. Despite starting his fifth year with the team, Sauro has struggled to stay in the lineup. After a serious knee injury nearly ended his career in late 2016, he missed all of 2017 and returned in May 2018, making seven appearances during the season. On Saturday afternoon, he found the back of the net for the first time in a black and gold kit.

Full House

Columbus hasn’t had chance to truly celebrate officially Saving the Crew that happened in January. They finally got their chance on Saturday. Despite temperatures in the upper 30’s, 17,931 people showed up for the home opener. It’s the biggest crowd since the 2012 opener against the Montreal Impact. It was an energized and excited crowd rather than the defiant group that saw out the bitter end of the Anthony Precourt era.

What’s next

It’s the first road game of 2019, as the Crew head to suburban Boston to face the New England Revolution on Saturday, March 9th. It’s a 2 p.m. ET start.