Entering the 75th minute on Friday night, the Columbus Crew had a two-goal lead at CF Montréal and was 15 minutes away from a stirring road win. But then a red card reduced the visitors to 10 men before the lead was reduced twice in the final 20 minutes, forcing the Crew to settle for a 2-2 draw.
It was a frustrating conclusion to a game that Columbus looked like it would win, head coach Caleb Porter told the media after the match.
“We’re all pissed off obviously with the way it ended,” Porter said. “We’re up, 2-0. Honestly, I thought we were playing as well as we played in any game all year, we’re on the road playing my opinion the best team in the league and we’re up 2-0. I thought the energy, the execution, everything we wanted to do we did, we scored two goals and then we lose our discipline, you know and we go down a man and for me that's what turned the game.”
After a scoreless opening half, Columbus scored two goals in as many minutes in the second half to give the visitors a deserved lead.
First came Jonathan Mensah’s 66th-minute header from a creative set piece routine. Setting up 35 yards from goal, the visitors worked the ball toward the right flank, where Steven Moreira made an overlapping run. The French fullback then sent a cross into the box, where Mensah climbed above a Montréal defender and lofted the ball to the back post for his second goal of the season.
Two minutes later, Lucas Zelarayán doubled the lead when his right-footed volley knuckled toward the same post. Zelarayán’s initial shot was blocked, but before the ball returned to earth, the playmaker smashed it with the outside of his right foot for his team-leading ninth goal in 2022.
Fortunes changed in the 76th minute, however, when Luis Díaz was sent off. The home side started gaining momentum once the Crew was reduced to 10 men and made it a 2-1 match in the 89th minute when Victor Wanyama guided a Matko Miljevic shot past Eloy Room. In the 94th minute, Montréal leveled the score when Zachary Brault-Guillard’s shot was deflected away from Room.
“We give up two goals that are deflected goals, where we don't step and get enough pressure,” Porter said. “We've given up too many goals like that this year. And there's been how many six, seven goals exactly like the two we gave up you know where we don't step that extra yard, we don't make ourselves big and take it and face.
“When you don't take that extra yard to step out and you don't make yourself big then you get a little nick instead of a block and both goals are the exact same thing. So, for me, we have to learn from the end.”
With the draw, the Crew rests seventh in the Eastern Conference standings with 41 points from 29 games. Friday’s draw at Stade Saputo was the club’s 14th this season, which is a club record.
The Black & Gold now have five games remaining in the regular season and have a quick turnaround before Tuesday night’s clash at Inter Miami CF – a club trying to keep its playoff hopes alive.
“Emotions are high, obviously,” Porter said. “So, it's going to take a day to get over but we have a quick turnaround here and we have to put it behind us because we go on the road again to play Miami. And when the dust settles, yes, it's a point.
“I told the guys they can't forget how well we played for 75 minutes to go up 2-0. We just have to learn from the end. And the biggest thing we have to learn from the end, is we can't be losing our discipline and getting a red card. We're 2-0, with our noses in front, playing one of the best teams in the league, and three points in the bag. I know Luis is obviously disappointed and sorry for that, but that cost us today, that really cost the team when you lose your discipline and make mistakes like that, hurts the team and so everybody needs to learn from that.”
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