Down to 10 men following a first-half red card issued to Harrison Afful, the Columbus Crew came back from a 2-0 first-half deficit to draw FC Cincinnati on the road, 2-2, and deny the home side a chance at its first win at TQL Stadium while Columbus stands unbeaten in three of its last four road matches.
Columbus fell behind quickly when Edgar Castillo fired home a goal inside the 25-second mark. Luciano Acosta then made it 2-0 before Lucas Zelarayan pulled a goal back right before halftime for a Columbus side that was forced to play with 10 men from the 43rd minute on following a red card for Afful.
WATCH | Lucas Zelarayan rips it from distance
But despite their numerical disadvantage, Columbus would not go home empty-handed, securing a point thanks to a first MLS goal from Miguel Berry.
The first half was action-packed from start to finish. In the opening seconds, Acosta maneuvered past challenges on the endline before cutting the ball back for Castillo, whose first-time left-footed strike flew into the net off the despairing boot of Jonathan Menash as he tried to block on the line. Castillo's effort was the 12th fastest goal in MLS history.
Cincy quickly capitalized to double its advantage. This time Acosta was both instigator and finisher. The Argentine No. 10 started an interchange on the edge of the box involving Brenner and Isaac Atanga before the ball fell back to him in the area and he finished calmly past Crew backup keeper Evan Bush.
As well as the goalmouth action, the first half was also characterized by some heavy challenges. Mensah was arguably fortunate to escape at least a yellow card on multiple occasions, including for a late challenge on Acosta that incensed the Cincinnati bench.
But Columbus' aggression would cost them before the half was out. Already booked early on, Afful earned his second yellow and a red in the 43rd minute for bundling Acosta over from behind.
The half had one more unexpected twist, though, In the first minute of stoppage time, Zelarayan unleashed an unstoppable first-time shot from all of 30 yards to give the visitors some hope heading into the interval.
That goal would prove huge in changing the direction of the contest. Despite being down a man, the Crew took the game to Cincinnati in the second half.
Zelarayan almost scored his second sensational goal of the night with another first-time blast from outside the box only for this one to cannon off the underside of the bar and away, but the Crew would not be denied.
Zelarayan played an inch-perfect through ball into the area and Berry cooly dinked a shot over the advancing Kenneth Vermeer to rescue an unlikely point for the MLS Cup champs.
WATCH | Miguel Berry finishes a perfect pass from Zelarayan
Up next, the Crew is back at Lower.com Field on Saturday, July 17 to host New York City FC for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff, with limited tickets remaining.