Playing their third match in eight days, and on the road against the Supporters Shield leaders, the Columbus Crew drew the New England Revolution, 1-1, on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium to earn their first positive away result since July 24.
It was a performance that embodied the “refuse to lose” attitude, as the Crew took the lead in the 58th minute, lost it four minutes later and rallied to close out the draw under high pressure and with goalkeeper Eloy Room literally hobbling at the full-time whistle.
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“We knew this was going to be a very difficult and challenging match,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the match. “Coming into the week, we knew we had three in eight and we knew the third game was going to be against the best team in the League, on the road, and they didn’t have a midweek game. When we look at the guys we had out today and we look at who we had to sub in, we look at the perspective of how good they are, and they were at full strength, and it’s on the road. I’m proud of the result, I’m proud of the fight, and it’s a result that we’ll take.
“It feels like we’re coming together. Listen, we’ll take the point – wish we would have got three, thought we had it. We defended extremely well, of course they had some moments, but we had some good chances too.”
After a scoreless opening half, the Black & Gold took the lead near the hour mark when Gyasi Zardes headed home a pinpoint cross from Harrison Afful. Zardes’ goal was his fifth of the season and his first since July 3 – the last time these teams met (which also finished in a draw).
Four minutes after the Crew took the lead, they passed it away with a defensive mishap, but responded to the adversity and kept the Revolution from inflicting further damage.
“Obviously, the goal we gave up is a tough one, but Jona [Mensah] is a guy who that has won us a lot more games than he has lost us,” Porter said. “At the end of the day, the guys in that locker room are supporting him and he’s disappointed obviously, but the group is fighting, and I like where our mentality is at … We made it a game where we were going to be more compact, more disciplined, and I thought we executed extremely well except giving up the goal.”
Following the match, Columbus has 31 points from 26 matches – three points outside the MLS Cup Playoffs. The club’s next match is a “six pointer,” though, as the Crew will face CF Montréal, the team sitting in the coveted seventh spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
Given that the Crew has won their last two home games, a positive result next Saturday will help them keep playoff hopes alive while nullifying Montréal.
Following that match is the Campeones Cup on Sept. 29, when the reigning MLS Cup champs host Cruz Azul at Lower.com Field. The Black & Gold are seeking their first continental trophy and will face the reigning Liga MX champions. Click here to claim your tickets to witness history.