Columbus Crew SC’s unbeaten streak continued on Saturday night as the team drew San Jose Earthquakes 1-1 at Avaya Stadium. The Earthquakes, who had won their previous four games in a row and six of their previous seven, dropped points in a Major League Soccer match for the first time in a month.
Remarkably, San Jose previously outscored opponents 24-5 in their previous nine home matches, winning all of those matches coming into Saturday’s game with Columbus.
The first half looked one-sided on the stat sheet, with San Jose dominating the possession battle with 72 percent of the ball and keeping the Crew on its heels for the first 45 minutes.
Columbus defender Hector Jimenez went down within the first five minutes of the game with a left leg injury. He eventually had to get stretchered off of the sideline to make way for Jonathan Mensah who saw his first action with the Black & Gold in over a month.
The Crew had its first quality chance of the game in the 13th minute when a free kick at the top of the penalty box whipped in by Wil Trapp was headed out by the Quakes.
San Jose stayed on the attack and got in on goal on numerous occasions early but couldn’t find the net.
The Black & Gold nearly broke the deadlock in the 21st minute after Gyasi Zardes had a shot in front of goal but deflected out of bounds. Luis Argudo followed up with a chance of his own five minutes later that went just left of the Earthquakes’ goal.
San Jose captain Magnus Eriksson shot just wide of Eloy Room in the 29th minute, continuing the back-and-forth play on offense for the remainder of the first half.
The injury bug looked like it came back and infected the Black & Gold shortly after when Aboubacar Keita went down, only to get up and return to action seconds later.
Four minutes before halftime, San Jose was scored the opening goal of the game when a shot deflected off of the elbow of Harrison Afful in the 18-yard box for a hand ball. The penalty kick was called and converted by Eriksson. In six minutes of first half stoppage time, the Crew was unable to find the equalizer and the penalty remained the difference between the two sides.
The second half was much of the same with the Black & Gold struggling to maintain possession along with getting players in the opposing penalty box.
Columbus goalkeeper Eloy Room came up big with back to back saves in the 59th minute to deny San Jose the opportunity to extend their lead.
Winger David Accam was substituted in for Argudo in the 62nd minute to try and shake up the attacking options for Columbus. The Black & Gold were finally able to push through and score the game-tying goal when Luis Diaz made a streaking run down the right-hand side, crossed the ball in, got it back and found Zardes in the penalty box for a headed goal at the far post.
In a rather uninventive second half, both sides had their fair share of opportunities to close out the game with neither able to convert the game-winning goal. The Black & Gold were ultimately able to get their second-straight result on the road in a 2019 season that has seen them perform as one of the league’s worst away from home.
The Comeback Kids
Saturday marked the second straight game for the Black & Gold where they were able to overcome a road deficit against one of the better sides that MLS has to offer. After coming from behind to defeat the New York Red Bulls last week, Columbus did the same on the road against arguably the hottest team in the league.
This is only the second time all season the Crew have trailed at halftime and earned a result, the first being the 2-2 draw at the Chicago Fire a few weeks ago that started the Black & Gold’s unbeaten streak.
A sign of things to come?
With a fourth consecutive match where the Black & Gold were able to bring home at least a point, it may now be time for fans and pundits alike to ask if this is a turnaround for a team who has seen the lowest of the lows this season.
Most of the Crew’s success circles back to striker Gyasi Zardes, who has scored two goals in the previous four games. Missing four games as a result of international duty, it looks as if Zardes is ready to lead the charge and help the Crew make a much-needed playoff push with only nine games remaining in the regular season.
In the most anticipated match of the season, Caleb Porter and his team look to extend their unbeaten streak to five at home against MLS newcomer and rivals FC Cincinnati next Saturday, Aug. 10. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium.