Columbus Crew 2 fell just short of expectations on the road against Toronto FC II in on Sunday evening, losing to TFC II 4-3 in a penalty kick shootout after a 0-0 draw in regulation. This was the MLS NEXT Pro team’s second straight penalty shootout loss following a scoreless 90 minutes.
In a game that has sparked some flare-ups in the past two meetings, Sunday was much more about missed chances and stellar saves. Crew 2 came out and found ways to control the pace and possession. The 16th minute saw forward Noah Fuson and fullback Mohamed Farsi create a chance but it was denied by an incredible save by TFC II goalkeeper, Luka Gavran.
Unfortunately, the Black & Gold have had quite a few injuries as of late and one more reared its head as midfielder Alexandru Matan came off for Michael Vang due to a head injury in the first half. After the injury, Columbus began to get into a rhythm as the team started to put pressure on the Toronto backline in the middle of the first half.
Crew 2 showcased that despite no longer playing with star striker Jacen Russell-Rowe, the team was going to play a very similar style. Playing with a high line, with Farsi’s long ball on the right side to the striker, in this case, Fuson is a familiar player that fans are used to seeing.
The Black & Gold had shaky legs in the 35th minute as a great ball for TFC II led to a chance in the penalty box that the defense was able to shut down just in time thanks to defender Abdi Mohamed.
Toronto’s Steffen Yeates just barely missed a shot in the 38th minute, giving TFC II the team’s best chance to that point the end of the first half. This was an indication of the Reds beginning to find their footing in the game.
The game remained scoreless at the half with Columbus having six shots to Toronto’s two and controlling over 60 percent of the possession.
More excitement came to the match early in the second half when Farsi sent in a cross to captain and midfielder Marco Micaltetto in the 52nd minute and midfielder Jake Morris sent a through ball in that just missed Fuson’s boot that surely would’ve ended the scoreless game if not for stellar defending from Toronto.
The 60th minute saw Jordan Knight come on for Farsi and TFC II began to get more comfortable in the game. Toronto found a balance of physicality and breaking down the backline and winning the ball in midfield, making this match much more even than in the first half.
Reds midfielder Paul Rothrock was stopped in the 70th minute by Crew 2 defender Justin Malou, who was a force throughout the game. Malou’s ability to stay with his man as the last defender was crucial as he had the angle to beat goalkeeper Patrick Schulte.
A perfect setup from TFC II’s front three in the 75th minute was Toronto’s best chance of the night as Rothrock had a clear chance in goal but somehow the shot went directly to Schulte.
The last stretch saw both teams fight extremely hard for three points with close chances coming in either penalty box. The closest was in TFC II’s Antonio Carlini’s opportunity from the edge of the 18-yard box in the 82nd minute that just missed the nnet. Alec Dias attempted to win it for Toronto in the 91st minute but Schulte proved to be a powerhouse in goal today.
After a slew of last-second chances from TFC II, regulation time ended 0-0. It was Toronto’s fifth straight game with at least a point.
Crew 2 prepared for the team’s second penalty shootout, and technically back-to-back penalties as their game against Philadelphia was postponed. Columbus lost the shootout against Rocher New York FC 4-2.
The penalty shootout did not go the Black & Gold’s way as both goalkeepers saved each team’s first attempt before Micaletto was denied to give TFC II an advantage until Coello missed for Toronto to level things. The teams traded goals until sudden death when Crew 2 defender Ryan Telfer was denied by Gavran to give the Reds a 4-3 penalty shootout win.
Crew 2 is back in Columbus next weekend as the team attempts to get back to winning ways against FC Cincinnati 2 on Saturday, June 16th at Historic Crew Stadium. The kickoff for that match is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.