Columbus, OHIO — Fifth place Columbus Crew SC hosted a struggling Los Angeles Galaxy in a midweek showdown at MAPFRE Stadium. Columbus entered the match hoisting a 1-1 draw against Orlando City SC. Rookie defender Lalas Abubakar scored his first goal in for the Black and Gold. Giles Barnes tied the game with his equalizer midway through the second half.
Video Review Hands Columbus Crew SC Three Points over LA Galaxy
Columbus had to play this game without right back Harrison Afful after he received a red card late in the second half.
The Boys Are Back In Town
After playing their last few matches with a 3-4-2-1 formation, Head Coach, and Sporting Director Gregg Berhalter switched back to the infamous 4-2-3-1 formation that saw Josh Williams and Jonathan Mensah paired up in the center. Newly minted Designated Player Pedro Santos made his first ever MLS start and midfielder Federico Higuain found his way back into the starting lineup.
Columbus Had Chances
Columbus had a good chance early on in the ninth minute of play when Santos was able to get a good look at the goal, but goalkeeper Jon Kempin was able to make the save. Just minutes later, Columbus was on the attack again. This time, good passing led up to a Hector Jimenez shot that was deflected out for a corner kick.
Things would get even worse for the Galaxy when Ashley Cole would receive a red card for wiping out the legs of Santos. Referee Sorin Stoica decided to go to Video Review and the card stood. The ensuing free kick was blasted into the wall by Santos.
— Columbus Crew SC (@ColumbusCrewSC) August 24, 2017
Again, minutes later, Santos was taken down right on the line. Stoica went to VAR again for the second time, and VAR referee Hilario Grajeda gave the option to Stoica to award a penalty kick. Stoica took the recommendation and gave Crew SC the penalty kick. Higuain took the kick but Kempin came up huge with the save.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 24, 2017
At the other end, the Galaxy scored a goal, but Stoica — yet again — went to VAR and it was determined that the play was offside. The goal was scored by Daniel Steres, but Stoica called the goal back due to an offside play and foul by Joao Pedro on Hector Jimenez. No goal.
Here’s the disallowed #LAGalaxy goal following Video Review.
— LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) August 24, 2017
A lot, right?
Defender Waylon Francis had to be taken off and replaced by Jukka Raitala after getting injured.
Columbus would eventually find the opener in the 45th minute before halftime. Santos played a ball inside to Ola Kamara who slotted it home past Kempin to give the Black and Gold a 1-nil lead.
Ola puts Columbus up 1-0 after a lovely ball from Santos! pic.twitter.com/Y2mqawuFWZ
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) August 24, 2017
Columbus Surges in Second Half
Justin Meram almost had the second goal of the game when nifty moves gave him space inside of the box for a shot on goal that went just high of the upper 90 target. Cristian Martinez also almost doubled the Columbus lead with his shot right on the penalty spot, but his attempt went wide of the far post.
Columbus was awarded yet another penalty kick in the 78th minute when Kempin took down Kekuta Manneh inside of the box. Kamara looking to get another brace took the kick but Kempin was strong yet again, to parry the ball away to keep the Galaxy alive in a weird but very intriguing match.
— Major League Soccer (@MLS) August 24, 2017
Game, set, match for Columbus as they were able to steal all three points when Meram blasted a shot past Kempin to give Columbus a 2-nil lead in stoppage time. Columbus pulled out the 2-0 victory as they continue their push to the playoffs.
Post-match Quotes: Gregg Berhalter
Berhalter started the press conference with a little bit of shock in regards of three Video Review calls going in favor of his side. “It was crazy. Just crazy to think that three calls, two corrected and one upheld, but to me, that’s why they implemented this [VAR] system, so you would get major things right. I think it’s strange it all happened in one game.”
As mentioned before, Columbus opted to go back to the 4-2-3-1 formation; A formation that hasn’t been seen since early July. “We wanted to get Ola, Federico, Pedro, and Justin on the field together. I think it went reasonably well. Overall good movements.”
Columbus didn’t allow the Galaxy a single shot on goal throughout the match. Four shots were taken but all off target. “In games like this, that’s when the defense needs to be the most concentrated. You missed two penalty kicks, you’re winning 1-0, they’re down 10 men, and by nature, as defenders, you have the tendency to get complacent and we didn’t get complacent at all.”
Two Missed Penalties
“I’ve rarely seen in games you miss two penalties. I’ve never seen that personally. It doesn’t happen often.” Had Columbus converted on the two penalty kicks, the match would’ve ended 4-0 but Kempin had other plans to help the 10-man Galaxy stay in the match.
Defender Waylon Francis had to be replaced by Jukka Raitala in the first half. Berhalter said “We think it’s a slight hamstring strain. We’re going to evaluate it tomorrow with an MRI.”
“It seems like a lot of time has passed since the Orlando game. Maybe it was just mental that we pretended there was a week stretch between Saturday and Wednesday.” Three days passed since the draw with Orlando and this match.
Columbus’ three-game home stand continues this Saturday when Crew SC host a red hot FC Dallas squad (7:30 pm EST | MLS Live) before having a week off. Columbus will close out the homestand against Sporting Kansas City September 10 (1 pm EST | ESPN).