The Columbus Crew took a short trip to Detroit, Michigan for the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. On a cold, windy evening at Keyworth Stadium, Columbus played its first Open Cup match in two years. The Black & Gold opponent was Detroit City FC of the USL Championship the second division of the U.S. Soccer. Playing with a lineup of players further down the senior team depth chart, the home Detroit City side upset Columbus, winning 2-1.
After some initial kinks in the Crew’s passing, the Black & Gold put together some early moves on offense. From kickoff, Detroit looked like a team that watched the last three Columbus matches, sitting back and waiting for counter-attacking opportunities.
To their credit, it was almost as effective. Detroit sent multiple shots towards the net but accuracy failed the home side. The home team’s first came in the fifth minute. Fortunately for the Crew, it was midfielder Aidan Morris that jumped in to stop the chance and go on the counter.
In the sixth minute, winger Erik Hurtado passed to the top of the penalty area to Morris, who was tackled from behind in the box. Columbus won the penalty kick, which forward Gyasi Zardes sent to the bottom left corner of the net, putting the Crew up 1-0.
Outside of the penalty kick, and a shot by Morris in the 22nd minute, Detroit had the best chances. The home team capitalized on poor Black & Gold passing but never challenged goalkeeper Evan Bush outside of catching the occasional ball bouncing into the 18-yard-box.
Columbus entered halftime up a goal with more work to do in the second half.
Right away in the second half, the visitors had the chance to double the lead. Zardes and the Crew went on a break, with the forward getting past goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher. It appeared Steinwascher brought Zardes down in the penalty box after Zardes got past, but the referee called nothing. Without VAR, the match remained 1-0.
In the 54th minute, a trend continued for the Crew when defending set piece. While Detroit didn’t score, with Williams clearing the ball off the line, Columbus narrowly held the lead.
The Black & Gold had chances, but it felt like a replay of past matches where the Crew got into areas but couldn’t break through the defense.
Williams’ work throughout the match was nullified in the 84th minute. The center back took out a Detroit forward in the penalty area, earning Detroit City a penalty kick. Bush picked correctly and dove towards the shot but it hit off the post and rolled into the net, putting the home side up for good.
Columbus brought in starters Miguel Berry, Yaw Yeboah and Derrick Etienne Jr., but it wasn’t enough. The Crew now return home to Central Ohio after being eliminated from the Open Cup and adding a fourth straight loss to their 2022 campaign.
Offensive and set piece woes
The Black & Gold’s goal in the first six minutes of the match was their first since the extra time equalizer against New York Red Bulls on March 20. Even with the goal, the finish wasn’t from the run of play and Columbus didn’t look dangerous in the penalty box yet again.
Also, the issues on set pieces thus far have been on defense. This game showed that they’re also a problem on offense. Without midfielder Lucas Zelarayán, set plays all went into penalty areas where no Crew players were stationed. The lack of creativity in goal scoring is something to watch on future set pieces in the future.
Aidan Morris Standout Night
The difficulty in scoring and another tough loss, a positive from this game was Aidan Morris. After missing all of last season and playing in three games this year, the midfielder had a great night on offense and defense. His press was effective against the Detroit midfield and he also connected passes up and down the field.
Columbus’ lead, and the best chances on goal otherwise, had Morris’ footprint all over them. It’s a performance that shows what he can bring to this Crew team in 2022 and beyond.
The Crew is back at it this weekend traveling to take on Sporting Kansas City on the road, a team that wasn’t part of midweek Open Cup festivities. Saturday’s match starts at 8:30 p.m. ET at Children’s Mercy Park against a Sporting side that sits in 12th place in the Western Conference with eight points from eight matches.