All things considered, Columbus Crew SC will take Saturday’s result.
In front of 39,515 at CenturyLink Field, the Black and Gold played the Seattle Sounders to a 0-0 draw. Columbus played down a man for 75 minutes after Pedro Santos received a straight red card for a challenge on Cristian Roldan in the 15th minute.
10-Man Columbus Crew SC Salvage Draw in Seattle
Manager Gregg Berhalter decided to sit three regular starters for this match. Defenders Jonathan Mensah and Harrison Afful along with defensive midfielder Artur all did not appear in the 18-man squad. With Crew SC in action midweek, Berhalter opted to give them the day off.
Santos’ day didn’t last very long itself. The Portuguese winger was involved in a challenge in which his left foot came up and grazed Roldan in the face. Referee Hilario Grajeda invoked VAR and took an additional look on the video screen adjacent to the field. That added scrutiny prompted Grajeda to brandish the red card and send Santos off.
Video review here for this challenge. We wait to see. pic.twitter.com/GYNNiwSykv
— Total MLS (@TotalMLS) May 5, 2018
As a result, Berhalter made a tactical switch shortly thereafter. He brought an additional center back onto the pitch in the 31st minute when Alex Crognale replaced Cristian Martinez. It marked Crognale’s first appearance since returning to the club from his loan spell with Orange County FC of USL.
Despite their short-handed predicament, Crew SC actually had two legitimate chances to take the lead in the first half. First came a chance in the 22nd minute in which Gyasi Zardes had just Stefan Frei to beat but hit his shot wide right. 14 minutes later, left back Milton Valenzuela collected the ball right in front of goal but his shot sailed over the crossbar.
Zack Steffen played his part. The Columbus goalkeeper made a key reaction save in denying Clint Dempsey a potential game-winner in the 72nd minute. It turned out to be the only time Steffen was called into action, and he came through with flying colors.
In the end, it was the Sounders who controlled the tempo of the game for the most part. They finished with nearly 65 percent possession and outshot Columbus 17-5. The fact that Crew SC was forced to play with 10 men as long as they did meant that the “build out of the back” tactics Berhalter’s known for gave way to absorbing a great deal of pressure.
It certainly worked, with his squad getting their first result in Seattle since Berhalter’s first year at the helm in 2014.
After this weekend’s West Coast road trip, the Black and Gold return home and face the Philadelphia Union on Wednesday. It marks the second matchup of the season between the two Eastern Conference opponents. The match gets underway at 7:30 pm ET.