Five minutes into second-half stoppage time, the Columbus Crew was moments away from a well-deserved win that would have massive implications on the team’s postseason push.  

But then Santiago Moreno’s long-range strike rocketed into the bottom corner of the goal, equalizing the match and sending the Crew out of a playoff spot following Sunday’s 1-1 draw with the Portland Timbers at Lower.com Field. 

“I thought we did play better, and I thought we deserved to win,” head coach Caleb Porter said after the game. “But you know, in football, you don't deserve anything unless you get it. I watched several Premier League games today and you see late goals, always happens, and so we don't want to be that team. And it's just disappointing because a lot of the guys that aren't starting, we train them really hard to be ready to step in always and work really hard to make sure that they're able to execute like everybody else.”

Kevin Molino gave the home side the lead in the 36th minute when he scored his first goal of the season – and his first for the Crew since Aug. 4, 2021.  

The goal came from a well-worked sequence that started when Juan “Cucho” Hernández, on the right flank, played a cross-field ball to Pedro Santos. The Portuguese left back then passed it to Lucas Zelarayán, who, with his back to goal, played a through ball to Molino, who ran in behind the Timbers backline and sent his shot to the back post.

The Timbers had opportunities to score, but the backline was firm and Eloy Room had a handful of nice saves. It looked like the Crew took a 2-0 lead in the 81st minute, but Derrick Etienne Jr., was ruled offside after a tidy finish in front of The Nordecke.  

Nearly a quarter hour later, Portland was able to capitalized with the dramatic late goal that took two points from the Crew and, after Inter Miami's late win against DC United, moved the club from seventh to eighth in the Eastern Conference.  

“Yeah, it's sad because to work so hard in training, to put yourself in a position where you know, you're executing like we executed in that first half and for large portions of the second half,” Porter said. “They're a very good team Portland. And to play that well, to work that hard, to be in a position to take all three points, to now have to rely on guys like always, you need to rely on subs to come into the game to help you get the job done … I think in this game, it was just one play that we don't make.” 

There will be plenty of time to recover and refocus for the final three matches of the regular season, though. With the international break beginning, the Crew’s next match is the home finale on Oct. 1 at Lower.com Field against the New York Red Bulls.  

The Crew has 42 points from 31 games – like Inter Miami CF – but is behind based on total wins. Miami has 12, while Columbus has nine.

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