COLUMBUS, Ohio — Columbus Crew SC picked up its first-ever victory against Atlanta United by a score of 2-0 Saturday night, but the real story was the condition of the field. Rain fell all day in Columbus, and it soon showed. The pitch held up well for the first 30 minutes of the game, but an hour delay due to lightning changed that. The rain picked up, and when the teams retook the field, the conditions were clearly worse.
Large swaths of the field had standing water, especially on the left side and in the goal boxes. It became impossible to pass or even run with the ball. Clearances that would normally go the length of the field traveled half that distance. The club’s groundskeeping crew had to work hard with squeegees to push off what water they could, but it was clear there wasn’t anything to be done. The weather continued to deteriorate as the night went on.
”I’ve never had a game in conditions like tonight, honestly,” Crew head coach Caleb Porter said.
Luckily for the Crew, they did their damage early. Pedro Santos scored his second career goal for the Crew in just the 2nd minute. Harrison Afful turned around the Atlanta defense with a ball to Artur, who sent a cross into the box. Gyasi Zardes attempted to score, but was tangled up by a defender. Guzan dived to make the save, allowing the ball to squirt out to Santos who buried it into the open net.
“We need to be proactive, we don’t want to be reactive. We need to dictate tempo,” team captain Wil Trapp said. “It puts them on their heels.”
Zardes doubled the Crew lead in the 39th minute, finding space among the United backline. The goal again came on a cross, this time from Robinho on the opposite side. He and Federico Higuain both picked up assists on the play.
”I’ve never played in weather like tonight,” Robinho said. “To get the three points is big.”
With the rain limiting chances, Columbus didn’t threaten to score much again until a penalty in the second half. Zardes was taken down from behind in the box by Miles Robinson, but Guzan denied the attempt from Higuain.
On the Atlanta side, multiple good looks were stopped cold by Zack Steffen. Ezequiel Barco and Josef Martinez both seemed to have clear goals that Steffen laid out to stop. The saves from the reigning keeper of the year were among the best in his Crew career.
Columbus will look to continue its win streak next week when the New England Revolution visit.