Given the Crew's dominating second-half performance, the immediate on-field reactions varied following the final whistle, but the overarching theme was similar: with the Crew's crescendoing play as the second half wore on, how could the Black & Gold not find the game-winner?
After spending the latter portions of the match pounding the Nashville SC defense with one attacking opportunity after another, Columbus created plenty of chances but ultimately finished Wednesday night with a scoreless draw inside Lower.com Field.
“It’s good to leave a game where we don’t lose and where we’re disappointed,” Porter said after the match. “We have to keep improving, and for me, a draw at home is a disappointment. We need three points – I don’t care who we’re playing.”
In a rematch of the 2020 MLS Cup Eastern Conference semifinals, Columbus generated 17 shots – seven on target – but couldn’t produce a game-winner in their second match in five days.
But despite the lack of goals, the home side generated numerous chances, especially in the final moments of the game. Porter went on to say the second half was arguably one of the club’s best halves through the first 14 games of the regular season.
“I wish we had overtime in this game, because I think the rhythm and the flow that we had and the way that we were playing in the second half, all the way through the final whistle, I thought was excellent,” Porter said. “In the end, I think they’re pretty content with a draw. You could tell that in the second half, they clearly had a plan to sit back, and they defended extremely well. We did have quite a few chances in the second half, if you add them up.
“In the end, as well as we played in that second half, it just wasn’t enough to wear them down enough. Yet, I still think that was one of the best halves we’ve played all season long, and I love the way we played that half. How aggressive we were, how we played in the final third – everything about it. I just feel like if we would have played that way for 90 minutes, we would have won the game. The disappointment is not getting the win, and not getting the win probably because of that first half.”
Darlington Nagbe nearly gave the Crew the lead in the 70th minute when his shot from the top of the box deflected off a defender and drifted toward the bottom left corner, forcing Joe Willis to make an impressive diving save.
From there, the Crew kept producing and forcing Nashville into difficult situations, including a controversial no-call foul on Pedro Santos in the box.
Perhaps the Crew’s best chance to score arrived in the 92nd minute when Molino collected the ball with an open net but sent his shot wide of the target.
“It was fun to be out there,” Bradley Wright-Phillips said. “It just felt like there was a little more freedom. We tried things and I think we were a little bit unlucky. At the end of the day we didn’t score, but I think it was a good second half. Yeah, I was sure we were getting a goal. I didn’t see Kevin’s (shot) go past the post until late, but when I saw him connect with it, I was thinking, ‘That’s the goal.’ I was sure we were going to get a goal, but it just wasn’t meant to be.”
With the stalemate, Columbus remains unbeaten at Lower.com Field and sits sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with 21 points from 14 games. The Crew will play its next two matches on the road, beginning Saturday afternoon against Atlanta United FC.
The Five Stripes, who are 10th in the conference, drew FC Cincinnati, 1-1, on Wednesday night 100 miles south of Columbus.