Kansas City, Kansas (May 27, 2018) — Columbus Crew SC‘s defense is constructing a completely different narrative in 2018.
Long the weak link for the club under Gregg Berhalter, suddenly the back line is an impenetrable barrier. That was readily apparent during Sunday’s nationally televised matchup with Sporting KC which ended in a 0-0 draw. During the match, the club set a new franchise record for most number of consecutive minutes without allowing a goal.
That streak currently stands at 495 minutes. And it’s part of a seven-match unbeaten streak in which the Black and Gold didn’t concede a single goal during the month of May.
Columbus Crew SC Sets Franchise Record in Minutes Without Conceding a Goal in 0-0 Tie With Sporting KC
Sunday’s contest was a duel of hugely talented goalkeepers. Both SKC’s Tim Melia and Columbus’ Zack Steffen were called into action in preserving the result. In Melia’s case, it came in first-half stoppage time. After taking down Gyasi Zardes in the box, he proceeded to deny the resurgent striker his ninth goal which would’ve put him at the top of the MLS Golden Boot standings.
— #SKCRetroNight (@SportingKC) May 27, 2018
Both netminders made three saves on the night. Steffen’s biggest effort came in the 63rd minute when he denied a Daniel Salloi attempt on goal. He parried it away with his right hand which, as Fox Sports sideline reporter Katie Witham indicated, is not at 100 percent. Steffen suffered a broken bone and torn ligament in his right pinky finger during training a few weeks ago.
The match was not without controversy. First came an incident right after Melia’s save of Zardes’ PK when Federico Higuain fouled Roger Espinoza. After VAR, Robert Sibiga decided it warranted a red card and sent off the Argentinian playmaker. The overwhelming sentiment afterward was disagreement with the decision.
Thought there was an angle that showed it was the outside of Higuain's boot that caught the shin. Another one I think they got wrong despite VAR. https://t.co/QVdfJ9FyEo
— Paul Tenorio (@PaulTenorio) May 27, 2018
Early in the second half, it was Columbus’ Cristian Martinez who was embroiled in a controversial incident. Replays clearly showed him taking a swing at SKC’s Seth Sinovic who fell to the ground as a result. In his case, he didn’t even receive a caution let alone an ejection. Opinion on what transpired was in stark contrast to the Higuain foul.
Unbelievable. Cristian Martínez clearly slapped Seth Sinovic in the face off-the-ball, but Robert Sibiga didn't even go over to Video Review monitor and there was no card given. Far more of an obvious red card than many in #MLS, and yet nothing? #SKCvCLB #SportingKC #CrewSC #VAR pic.twitter.com/KgtwyCT9Zl
— Jason Foster (@JogaBonito_USA) May 27, 2018
Crew SC was obviously lucky not to be down to nine men for a good portion of the game. But in the end, they successfully grinded away a scoreless draw short one player. It marked the second time this season they’ve done so. Against the Seattle Sounders on May 5, attacking winger Pedro Santos saw red in the 15th minute. Yet Columbus held fast and persevered for a result. It was a similar outcome on Sunday.
The draw means that the Black and Gold are now tied with SKC and Atlanta United with the most points among MLS teams. They’re currently third in the Supporters’ Shield standings due to Atlanta having one more win and KC enjoying a superior goal differential.
After two games on the road, Crew SC returns home next week. They take on defending MLS Cup champions Toronto FC for the second time this season, hoping to get another win against the Reds after beating them 2-0 in the season opener. Kickoff from MAPFRE Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.