Columbus Crew SC kept the Vancouver Whitecaps under control for the entirety of the match, but a last-minute goal of Freddy Montero denied the Black & Gold a second-straight road win as the Crew and the Canadians tied 1-1 at BC Place. Gyasi Zardes scored for the Crew.
With the result, the Black & Gold have now 35 points and are still in contention for the MLS Cup playoffs, but that could change until the end of the day depending on some results.
Head coach Caleb porter opted to repeat the lineup in consecutive matches for just the second time in the season and went to the game with the same starting XI that upset Atlanta United last weekend, keeping team captain Wil Trapp in the bench.
The decision proved to be a good one as, despite of a big save of Eloy Room to stop a shot from Russell Teibert at the eighth minute, the Crew dominated early in the first half.
The Black & Gold dominance turned into a goal advantage at the 18th minute. Pedro Santos fed Luis Diaz with a through ball and the Costa Rican fired a shot that was partially saved by Zac MacMath. Diaz got the rebound and passed it back to the Portuguese, who was taken down by the goalkeeper inside the penalty box. Zardes converted from the spot to score his 13th goal in 2019.
A flurry of opportunities followed the Crew opening goal as Zardes, who had his left-footed shot saved by MacMath, Santos, who wasted a dangerous counter-attack with a bad pass, and Youness Mokthar, who fired over the post from outside the box, all had chances to score for the Black & Gold within the next ten minutes.
The Canadians regained control of the match in the final part of the first half, but it was the Crew to have the best goal scoring before the final whistle when Diaz saw has his left-footed shot be stopped by MacMath after a brilliant individual play at the 36th minute.
The Whitecaps started the second half with more energy while Columbus tried to make damage in transition. The Canadians’ pressure almost resulted in a goal at the 55th minute, when Theo Baird crossed, the ball deflected at the tip of Aboubacar Keita’s right cleat, hit the post and rebounded on Tosaint Ricketts’ body before slowly landing at Room’s hands just a few inches away from the goal line.
Shortly after that, Trapp entered the match replacing David Guzman. The Crew’s first shot in the half happened at the 60th minute, with a high finish from Mokhtar. Vancouver tried to change the pace of the game with a pair of substitutions, but it was the Black & Gold who got the next shot on target, with Diaz, at the 71st minute.
The Crew had Luis Argudo replacing Mokhtar for the last 15 minutes and with both teams failing to create goal scoring opportunities, it seemed that the Black & Gold would be able to defend its lead until the end. However, in the very last play before the final whistle Montero outjumped Connor Maloney and headed a cross from Ali Adnan to the back of the net.
Crew playoffs chances get slimmer
The Crew entered the match with very limited chances of making the playoffs and Montero’s goal made things even harder for the Black & Gold. If the New England Revolution defeats Real Salt Lake at home tonight, Columbus will be officially eliminated from the playoffs.
Zardes find his form on the road
Zardes has been on good form recently as the striker scored five goals on his last four road games. Ironically, the forward has been more prolific as a visitor than at MAPFRE Stadium this season as he netted nine of his 13 goals so far out of Columbus. That’s a massive change from last season, when he registered 17 of his 19 goals in Ohio.
Was eating dinner while watching the first half of the #Crew96 game, but now that my hands are free, how about this: In 2018, Gyasi Zardes scored 17 of his 19 goals at home. In 2019, he has scored 9 of this 13 goals on the road.— Steve Sirk (@stevesirk) September 21, 2019
89% at home in 2018.
69% on the road in 2019.
The Black & Gold return to Ohio next weekend for its final home match in the regular season against the Philadelphia Union, on Sunday, at 5 p.m. ET at MAPRE Stadium.