Head coach Caleb Porter on Columbus Crew SC’s 2-2 draw with Toronto FC.Posted by Massive Report on Saturday, August 17, 2019
After squandering a great chance for three points and the opportunity to move up in the standings last week, the Black & Gold had to secure a victory in the team’s third-to-last home game of the 2019 Major League Soccer season. Despite leading TFC late in the match, Columbus settled for a 2-2 draw.
The opening 15 minutes of the match were dominated in possession by the visitors as Toronto moved the ball around the Crew’s defensive half but were unable to create any dangerous opportunities.
It was the Black & Gold with the first real chance of the match coming in the 23rd minute. Creative midfielder Pedro Santos floated a ball over the top to wide midfielder Luis Diaz. The Costa Rican dribbled into the penalty box and found fellow winger Youness Mokhtar near the penalty spot. But Mokhtar, making his first start for Columbus, put his one-time shot well over the crossbar from 12 yards out.
Less than a minute later and the Crew had another good opportunity to open the scoring. This time, Mokhtar played provider, finding Santos inside the penalty area with a low-played cross. Santos also hit his shot first-time and put the effort narrowly wide.
The flurry of chances after a slow start to the match continued at the other end of MAPFRE Stadium as the Black & Gold conceded a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box. Toronto’s No. 10, Alejandro Pozuelo, hit a dangerous free kick that deflected over from the Crew wall.
Columbus was left to rue the mid-half misses just before the intermission. TFC striker Jozy Altidore found midfielder Jonathan Osorio wide open in the middle of the park. With the Black & Gold central midfielders both pulled wide. Osorio had all the space he needed to dribble and tee up a shot that beat goalkeeper Eloy Room for the 1-0 advantage.
As the team has during much of the five-game unbeaten run coming into this match, the Crew came out flying to start the second half, and it paid off quickly.
Just three minutes into the second half, Columbus was level. Once again, it was Santos equalizing. Central midfielder Wil Trapp had time to play a long ball into the penalty area. The lofted pass was over the head over Toronto center back Omar Gonzalez and found the sliding foot of the Crew’s No. 7, whose shot tucked neatly into the far corner of the goal.
The Black & Gold pushed for the go-ahead goal and nearly found it in the 56th minute with Santos involved again. The winger by trade found himself with the ball out wide left. Letting his instincts take over, Santos placed a cross on to the head of Gyasi Zardes but the forward’s shot bounced over the goal.
In the 63rd minute, Osorio had another good effort from almost the same spot on the field. This time, the TFC midfielder received a bit more pressure and his shot was not as sweet and was saved by Room.
Second half substitute Luis Argudo made a quick impact after coming into the game for Mokhtar in the 66th minute. The winger got into the penalty box with his first few touches, getting off a quick shot that forced a reaction save from Toronto goalkeeper Quentin Westberg that bounced off the crossbar.
Zardes had another golden opportunity to give his side the lead in the 70th minute. On a set play, Santos found the forward with no one around him seven yards from goal. But Zardes was unable to direct the ball into the net, again putting it over the Toronto goal.
David Accam played super sub after entering the match in the 79th minute and scoring three minutes later. Harrison Afful intercepted a TFC pass 70 yards from goal and played a simple ball to the Ghanian winger. Accam took advantage of his fresh legs, running at the tired TFC defense and firing a shot through the hands of Westberg for the 2-1 lead.
With just over three minutes to play, Romario Williams nearly became the second substitute to score. Like Accam, he ran at the Toronto defense, cutting on to his left foot and hitting a hard shot that Westberg was able to parry.
For several minutes, it looked like the Crew faithful were going home happy, but it was not to be. The Columbus defense went to sleep at the back at the wrong moment and Auro served a cross over Jonathan Mensah to find Jozy Altidore for a powerful headed equalizer.
Once again, the Black & Gold settled for a point at home in a match that was there for the taking as playoff hopes slip further and further out of reach.
Another disappointed MAPFRE
Last week, the Crew had to come from two goals down to get a tie at home against FC Cincinnati, the last-place team in MLS. While it was still a point and extended the Black & Gold’s unbeaten run, it felt like two points lost for Columbus.
This week will have similar feelings after the Crew were leading the game heading into stoppage time. Instead of seeing the game out, it was lazy defending and another home draw. This is the ninth time this season Columbus has failed to take three points at home, a big reason why the team sits in 11th place in the Eastern Conference.
The depth shows up
For much of the 2019 season, Caleb Porter dealt with a lack of options due to injuries. The Crew head coach also had little options to bring off the bench when his team needed a jolt. That has changed after a strong summer transfer window. The Black & Gold now have several players who are starting caliber coming off the bench. In this match, those were Accam and Williams.
It’s a quick turnaround for the Crew, who travel to face New York City FC on Wednesday. That match will kick off at 7 p.m. ET from Yankee Stadium.