Massive Comeback: Columbus Crew SC Erases Three-Goal Deficit to Take Trillium Cup

Columbus Crew SC Erases Three-Goal Deficit
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 21: Federico Higuain #10 of Columbus Crew SC kicks the ball during the first leg of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Columbus Crew SC and the Toronto FC at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio on November 21,2017. (Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Columbus, Ohio (June 2, 2018) — It looked like Toronto FC was headed for sweet revenge after dropping the season opener to Columbus Crew SC. But behind a fierce second-half rally, the Black and Gold salvaged a point.

After falling behind 3-0 early in the second half, Columbus found the net three times in 23 minutes to escape with a 3-3 draw and thus regain possession of the Trillium Cup for the first time since 2015. It also extends the club’s unbeaten run to eight matches.

Massive Comeback: Columbus Crew SC Erases Three-Goal Deficit to Extend Unbeaten Run to Eight

A combination of national team call-ups, injuries and suspensions forced some squad rotation out of manager Gregg Berhalter. Jon Kempin and Ricardo Clark replaced Zack Steffen and Wil Trapp respectively with those two on the USMNT roster for their friendlies against Ireland and France. Mike Grella received his second straight start of the season. Pedro Santos and Jonathan Mensah missed the game due to injury while Cristian Martinez served the first leg of his two-match ban.

Crew SC controlled the tempo for a good portion of the opening 15 minutes of the match. So it was a surprise when Ryan Telfer wrested possession of the ball and dribbled it into the Columbus box. Artur, who already was on a yellow after a challenge on Jonathan Osorio in the second minute, committed another foul which prompted referee Nima Saghafi to point to the spot. Victor Vazquez converted the penalty in the 17th minute to make it 1-0.

It was the Barcelona native’s third goal of the season and his first since May 4. His tally put an end to Crew SC’s franchise record streak of not allowing a goal at 512 minutes. And it marked the first time Columbus trailed in a game since an April 14 loss to D.C. United.

Toronto doubled their advantage 21 minutes later. And on that particular goal, Vazquez went from scorer to provider. After Sebastian Giovinco slotted a pass towards him, he then squared it centrally to Tosaint Ricketts who came on in the 21st minute for an injured Osorio. Ricketts calmly put it past Crew SC reserve goalkeeper Jon Kempin to give the visitors a two-goal cushion.

The Reds took that advantage into the locker room. And not long thereafter, it was three. 12 minutes into the second half, Josh Williams took down Sebastian Giovinco just outside the box. Then the “Atomic Ant” did one of the things he does best: blasting mind-blowing set pieces into the net. Kempin had little chance to keep it out and the TFC lead now stood at 3-0.

Things seemed bleak for the home side. But in the 63rd minute, Berhalter made a unique move in using all three of his subs at the same time. Alex Crognale, Luis Argudo, and Eduardo Sosa came on for Lalas Abubakar, Niko Hansen, and Grella respectively. Suddenly, the club’s fortunes began to change.

It began in the 67th minute when Gyasi Zardes pulled off soccer’s version of the alley-oop. The resurgent number nine connected on a Federico Higuaín cross by going airborne and heading it past Alex Bono to get Columbus on the board. 14 minutes later, Crognale took advantage of an error from Michael Bradley to bag his first career goal with the club. Suddenly the comeback was on.

Bradley wasn’t done making mistakes which cost his team. As regulation was coming to an end, he took down Zardes in the box which gave Crew SC a chance to end the scoring in Saturday’s game the way it began: with a penalty kick. And Higuaín made no mistake with his effort that streaked past Bono and gave the Black and Gold a momentous result. It speaks to the fortitude and resiliency this club possesses in 2018.

The Black and Gold return to action this coming Wednesday when they welcome the Chicago Fire to town for their 2018 U.S. Open Cup debut. The club’s next match in MLS play is Saturday, June 9 when they welcome the New York Red Bulls, a game which will appear on national television with ESPN providing coverage. Kickoff gets underway at 5 p.m. ET.

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