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Columbus Crew give up lead, hold on for a point against New England

Apr 21, 2018; Columbus, OH, USA; New England Revolution forward Cristian Penilla (70) controls the ball against Columbus Crew SC defender Milton Valenzuela (19) in the first half at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

All teams go through streaks during the course of a season, but rarely does a team start with two polar opposite runs. Through the first four games of the season, Columbus Crew SC had three wins and one tie. After drawing the New England Revolution 2-2 Saturday, Columbus now has three losses and a tie in its last four games.

After failing to score in their last two games against the Chicago Fire and a 10-man DC United, the Crew got on the board quickly Saturday. Milton Valenzuela sent a cross into the box that Revolution defender Andrew Farrell knocked in for an own goal in the ninth minute. Columbus couldn’t hold the lead long, though, letting in an equalizer just five minutes later when New England’s Teal Bunbury buried a sharp-angled shot despite Jonathan Mensah providing tight coverage.

Gyasi Zardes put Crew SC back in front in the 43rd minute with his first goal against an American team this year. Assists came from Federico Higuain and Pedro Santos, but this lead was even shorter lived than the first. Revolution midfielder Cristian Penilla scored three minutes later for the 2-2 final.

Despite having no goals in the second half, the Crew created many chances they simply were unable to finish. They finished with 18 shots, just five on target, compared to nine total shots and six on target for New England.

“I think it’s positive. What I saw was the urgency, some good soccer,” Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter said, “we give that goal up right before halftime…if we didn’t give that up, the second half would’ve been different.”

In an effort to spark the team, Berhalter made a lineup change, starting Niko Hansen over Cristian Martinez on the wing.

“You’re gonna look to make some changes. I think you have the right to make some changes after losing three games in a row. We wanted to give an impulse to the team,” Berhalter said.

 

Berhalter wasn’t the only coach to draw positives from the match, as the draw seemed to leave both sides happy. “We’re quite pleased with the point, but we could’ve won the game. So could they,” Revolution coach Brad Friedel said.

Friedel, a former Crew player himself, was making his first visit to Columbus as an opposing coach.

“It’s always really nice to come back here. People are really friendly,” Friedel said. “It was a nice place to play. As far as if they’re going to stay or go, I truly hope that they stay, but you and myself aren’t privy to what goes on behind closed doors.”

Columbus will attempt to get its first home win since March 24th and score a goal in the second half for the first time since March 10th next week against the San Jose Earthquakes.

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