It happened again, but not in a good way. The Columbus Crew lost once a game, the team’s sixth defeat on the trot, dropping a 2-1 result to the Seattle Sounders. The Black & Gold took a second half lead, but couldn’t retain it, allowing the visiting Sounders to score two late goals to steal the win.
The Crew came out with a lot of energy to open the game. The team pressed high and tried to unsettle Seattle. It was reminiscent of the MLS Cup Final game plan that worked so well last December. The Sounders managed the pressure better this time and settled into the game while Columbus moved into a mid-block
Seattle had the first big chance of the game. A Yeimar header off a free kick forced an outstanding Eloy Room parry, keeping the game scoreless in the fifth minute. The Sounders had another great chance in the 12th minute off a poor Vito Wormgoor pass that was intercepted by Raul Ruidiaz. The shot from 22 yards blazed over the bar.
The visitors again forced Room into action when Fredy Montero found a pocket of space and rifled in a shot that the Crew goalkeeper parried and Saad Abdul-Salaam collected to end the danger in the 25th minute.
Columbus started creating chances as the half progressed. Midfielder Lucas Zelarayan found space and time on the ball left of the penalty area in the 31st minute. His looping cross drifted over the head of forward Miguel Berry and fell to an unmarked Saad Abdul-Salaam. His shot was well high and wide of the goal.
Moments later, the Crew had another chance after winger Pedro Santos was brought down 35 yards from goal. Zelarayan drove his free kick into the six-yard box, but center back Jonathan Mensah’s header popped over the bar.
The Sounders had a halfhearted penalty shout in the 37th minute as Vito Wormgoor handled the ball after getting bumped by Cristian Roldan. The referee called the foul that caused Wormgoor to touch the ball with his hand and video review saw nothing to check.
Seattle had the last good chance of the half as forward Nicolas Lodeiro uncorked another long-distance shot that clipped on its way towards goal. Room had plenty of time to adjust to the redirection and save easily in the 43rd minute.
The visitors continued to push forward after the interval as Ruidiaz beat Wormgoor to a loose ball in the midfield. Room parried the Brad Smith cross and a last-ditch tackle stopped a Ruidiaz follow up. Midfielder Joao Paulo rang the crossbar in the 49th minute after the ball popped outside the penalty box.
Columbus showed a spark in attack in the 58th minute as Zelarayan switched the ball right towards Santos. The chipped cross found a seam in the defense and winger Derrick Etienne Jr. header rang the crossbar, but the flag quickly went up as the Haitian international was a yard offside.
The Sounders pressed for the opening goal, but the Crew finally had a chance to counter after a midfield turnover in the 73rd minute. Zelarayan and Bradley Wright-Phillips were two-on-two, but the Argentine turned the ball over on the dribble. winger Luis Diaz’s counter-press created another chance and Santos launched a shot from distance that forced a save from goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland. The first action for the Sounders’ keeper in the game.
The Crew broke through in the 77th minute on a set piece to take an improbable lead. After Diaz tracked down a long ball and earn a corner kick, Zelarayan bent an outswinger that Mensah headed towards goal. It fell to the veteran Wright-Phillips who took a quick turn and touch to bury the chance from inside the six-yard box.
Columbus couldn’t hold on as Seattle pushed forward. Jimmy Medranda fired in a tight angled shot that forced a Room parry, but the rebound fell right to Xander Arreaga who didn’t miss from an open net from two yards out to tie the game in the 88th minute.
It took just a minute for the Black & Gold to let even a point slip award. Medranda once again pressured from the left side and dropped a pass to Will Bruin. The forward bent a shot past Room to give the Sounders the lead in the 89th minute.
The Crew never really tested the Seattle goal as the visitors closed out the remarkable comeback.
An epic collapse
It took one minute and 48 seconds for the Crew to collapse in dramatic fashion. The Black & Gold went from clawing back into a tie for seventh place to three points out of that spot with an extra game played. Columbus had played a nervy defensive battle for most of the game and nearly escaped with three points.
Almost every player in Black & Gold dropped to their knees or put their hands on their head at the whistle, not able to believe what they just saw. Losing a single game in the last minute can bruise a team mentally. Extending what is now a six-game losing streak can crush a team. It was a display reminiscent of the team’s 2019 summer swoon. The Crew now has to dig deep and try and reset mentally.
Panic and Alarm
Columbus is now outside the playoff picture and has played more games than all but the East-leading New England Revolution. There are 13 games left in the season and the chance of making the playoffs is becoming serious doubt.
The Crew is chasing D.C. United and the CF Montreal for the last spot, while Atlanta United and the New York Red Bulls can pass Columbus with results on the weekend. The Black & Gold could drop down to 10th in the East before the club next plays.
It’s hard to climb back into the playoff positions in this form. It’s harder when the Crew has to pass several teams to do it.
A sixth-straight loss and the Crew is now 6-9-6 on the year. The Black & Gold remains outside the MLS Cup playoff picture, three points behind D.C. and the Montreal. The Hell is Real Derby is next. FC Cincinnati comes to town on Friday evening for a 6:30 p.m. ET start in a nationally televised match.