The Columbus Crew faced the New York Red Bulls on the road for the two teams’ first matchup of the season. Columbus and New York needed wins to steer the ship after both teams walked away with a draw last week but it was the Red Bulls who walked away with three points after coming back from a goal down to win 2-1.
It wasn’t easy for the Crew to get going, having to face a high-pressing New York team that kept the Black & Gold pinned in their own defensive half for a good portion of the first half. An Alexandru Matan goal in the first half, his first for Columbus, was canceled out by two strikes from the Red Bulls in the second.
Crew goalkeeper Eloy Room was forced into making a quick save in the 31st minute when a strike from distance forced him into a kick save, keeping the score level at 0-0.
Just minutes later, the Crew was on the scoreboard.
Center back Steven Moreira sent a long free kick forward that found Matan. The midfielder was able to slot the ball past New York goalkeeper Carlos Coronel, who came off his line and left his net empty for the goal. In his 38th league appearance, the goal was Matan’s first of his Major League Soccer career.
The Black & Gold carried the lead into the half with 64 percent possession and completing 224 total passes. While things looked up for Columbus, it was the Red Bulls who crashed the party.
In the 58th minute, midfielder Luqinhas got on the end of a Room save and buried the ball into the back of the net to equalize for the home side.
The Crew had a golden opportunity to regain the lead last in the second half when the Black & Gold were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position. Playmaker Lucas Zelarayan, who had to start as a False 9 with forward Cucho Hernandez out, stood over the ball, but just put the shot wide of the post.
It wasn’t until the 86th minute when Red Bull fullback John Tolkin lofted a cross from the left side high over the Columbus backline. The service found attacker Dante Vanzeir for one-time shot past Room, giving the home side a 2-1 lead.
Zelarayan had another chance to bring the Crew level in second half stoppage time, with his shot just to the left of Coronel who made the easy save, giving the home side a chance to clear the danger.
What started out promising for Columbus didn’t end as well as they had hoped, as the Crew fell 2-1 to their New York counterparts.
Matan gets his first
Matan, who joined the Black & Gold in 2021, deserved a goal after a rough start to his time in Columbus. Those dreams came true when he found the back of the net, dribbling around Coronel to give the Crew the lead in the first half. After hitting the post last week against Toronto FC, the moment was sure to come soon and the moment paid off.
Zelarayan not at his best
Normally, Zelarayan is a force to be reckoned with. However, it was not the case on Saturday night in New York. The Armenian international was dispossessed multiple times and wasn’t able to impact the game the way he usually does.
The Crew is back at home next weekend against Atlanta United. Kickoff from Lower.com Field is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.