COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Crew nearly got their first shutout since April 6, but a stoppage time concession gave the team a 1-1 draw with rival Chicago Fire.
While the playoffs are out of reach, the team is showing growth and excitement as new signings continue to develop as eyes turn towards 2020, but the late goal devastated a fan base that has been devoid of home wins this season.
“When it’s 1-0 the opponent is always going to have a push, but we have to be better,” Crew head coach Caleb Porter said. “This is too many games where we’ve had the same situation. We have to be mentally and physically stronger late in games.”
The Columbus attack started slowly, with neither team creating many chances. Pedro Santos shocked the stadium when he dribbled around defenders from 25 yards out and scored a screaming shot for the lead in the 27th minute. Distance shots were clearly the Crew’s game plan against the Fire, and they had multiple on target looks from long. But Chicago keeper Kenneth Kronholm made multiple outstanding saves to keep his team in the game.
“The second goal was there time and again. We didn’t finish it and we lost the ball too much,” a visibly frustrated Porter said. “It’s not the first time, it’s not the second time…we’re right there every game. We do so much good, but we have to be better.”
Not to be outdone, Columbus keeper Eloy Room made a diving save in the first half as well, and came up big in the second half with a double save on a shot and rebound. But Przemyslaw Frankowski undid all the outstanding work when he scored in stoppage time.
Aug 31, 2019; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew SC mascots SC (left) and Crew Cat (right) pose before a match against Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
A tie felt more like a loss as the players collapsed on the field after the game.
“We had a chance to kill the game, and we didn’t,” Santos said after the game. “It’s mental…we’re playing not to lose, instead of to win.”
With only four games left in the regular season, determining which players will be here next season is likely the primary goal of the coaching staff. Still, wins at home are a priority for a fan base that has not seen many of those this season. Columbus has won just five games at home this year.
Crew Captain Wil Trapp gave a short, firm answer when asked about the importance of giving the home fans one final victory: “It’s imperative.”
Columbus play Atlanta United next on September 14th after an international break. The final home game of the season will be against the current Eastern Conference leaders the Philadelphia Union on September 29th.