If not for a single individual mistake seconds into a match, the Columbus Crew would be unbeaten in their first five road matches in 2022. Instead, the team is at four, which is still an impressive achievement, especially after Saturday night.
The problems mounted before kickoff when Marlon Hairston, who was filling in at right back, got injured in warmups. Derrick Etienne was tasked to replace him – then went on to have two assists for the first time in his career.
But adversity hit again late in the match, when Buksa gave the New England Revolution a 2-1 lead in the 82nd minute. Seven minutes later, Erik Hurtado produced his first goal for the Black & Gold, and the Crew left New England with an impressive road point.
“The mentality that we have … we’ve played five road games, we’ve got four draws,” head coach Caleb Porter said. “Yeah, we haven’t gotten the win, but we’ve been excellent on the road. We keep getting points, we keep momentum forward and we’ll take this result.”
The players are saying the same thing.
“Obviously, it's always tough playing here against New England,” captain Jonathan Mensah said. “They’re a very good team. We never gave up. We kept fighting, we stuck together, and we got the equalizer, so we’ll take it. Great job from the guys.”
In addition to the solid start on the road this season, the club’s steered back on course by going unbeaten its last three games. Since the Black & Gold began implementing a 4-3-3 in league play, they’ve found success springing forward on attack and showcased why they have one of the more lethal offenses in the league.
But not only that, the Crew has also shown its ability to produce results when scoring first.
Going back to last season, the side is unbeaten in its last 10 games when it’s produced a goal before the opponent. While there’s something to be said for comeback wins, being able to preserve points after scoring first can go a long way over the course of a 34-game season.
Roughly 30% through the year, Columbus sits ninth in the Eastern Conference with 13 points. The four road draws lead the conference in that category, but the team is still seeking its first road win.
Perhaps this is perfect timing considering the next match is Saturday night against New York City FC at Yankee Stadium. Of course, that’s where the Crew recorded its first road win in 2021, when Lucas Zelarayán scored two late free kicks to seal three points in a 2-1 win. Afterward, Porter referred to his No. 10 as the Argentine Babe Ruth.
That’s not to say that’ll happen again Saturday – after all, NYCFC won MLS Cup last season – but the Crew has played well on the road and shows no signs of stopping.
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