In just his ninth appearance, Cucho Hernández scored his seventh and eighth goals of the season, which helped Columbus remain unbeaten in 12 of the last 13 games. Most importantly, he’s helped the Black & Gold restore their attacking mojo and climb the standings into a playoff position.

“The form that he's in, he is every bit as good as we thought and is a massive, massive signing for us,” head coach Caleb Porter said following the 2-2 draw with Atlanta at Lower.com Field on Sunday. “He showed his quality today. Disappointing we weren't able to get the three points because I think his two goals and the performance he had will get lost in the shuffle somewhat because of it.”

Columbus conceded in the 21st minute from a set piece, and at half time, Porter said his team needed to step up its effort and intensity. That set the stage for a spirited second half that led to end-to-end soccer.

Cucho found the first equalizer in the 66th minute when substitute Kevin Molino played a ball to the right flank toward Luis Díaz. The Costa Rican then played a cross into the area, where Cucho smashed it into the net.

Six minutes later, it was another substitute providing an assist to a Cucho goal, as Will Sands ran down the left wing and played a ball back to the Colombian forward, who dribbled past an Atlanta defender and smashed a shot into the top corner.

The match was leveled once again in the 77th minute, however, and both teams – needing three points to help their playoff push – settled for one.  

“I'm happy again, that our mentality has shown to be very strong for the last 13 games,” Porter said. “I mean, that’s undeniable, it's another game where we have to claw and fight and scrap and we’re down, and then we come back, you know, and we're up 2-1, then again, I just want us to see out that set piece to get three points. So, I think that's what I'm going to be asking for out of the guys, is to start the game with 11 guys with intensity and hunger. 

“I'm pretty neutral today. Not mad, not happy. There're positives, there're things we've got to improve in. And that's kind of how I'll approach it.”  

With the result, the Crew has 35 points from 25 games, and will play a high-stakes Hell is Real Derby on Saturday night at FC Cincinnati. FCC is a point behind Columbus, but sits in ninth place. If there’s a winner from the game, it’ll be a massive blow to the opponent’s playoff push, and not to mention bragging rights.

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