Columbus Crew SC Misses Opportunity to Clinch Playoff Berth in 0-0 Draw With Philadelphia Union

Columbus Crew SC Misses Opportunity

Columbus, Ohio (September 29, 2018) — Everything seemed set for Columbus Crew SC to officially punch their ticket to the MLS Cup playoffs.

They got help from around the league, particularly D.C. United who obliterated the Montreal Impact by a 5-0 scoreline. All the Black and Gold needed was to defeat the Philadelphia Union at home on Saturday and they’d officially be a playoff team in 2018.

Unfortunately, the two teams played to a lackluster 0-0 draw. The good thing about the result is that Columbus remains the fourth-placed team in the Eastern Conference and would host a knockout round game should it stay that way. But there’s no doubting that it goes in the books as a missed opportunity.

Columbus Crew SC Misses Opportunity to Clinch Playoff Berth in 0-0 Draw With Philadelphia Union

Crew SC manager Gregg Berhalter made one change to the starting XI from the side that knocked off the Colorado Rapids 2-1 last week. Lalas Abubakar replaced Josh Williams at center back alongside Jonathan Mensah. It marked Abubakar’s 20th start of 2018, a season in which he’s averaging 5.7 clearances per 90 which is fourth-best in MLS among players with at least 1,500 minutes played.

The two sides traded opportunities around the opposition’s goal during much of the first half. Of particular note for Crew SC in the opening stanza was the play of Federico Higuain. The Argentinian playmaker set the Columbus wide players up with pinpoint passes from the center of the park. Ultimately, the final product from a goal-scoring standpoint just didn’t materialize.

Philadelphia appeared to take a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute. It came via a mistake from Mensah who tapped the ball into his own net. But prior to the ball crossing the goal line, Union striker Cory Burke appeared to shove Abubakar down to the turf. Referee Drew Fischer consulted VAR and subsequently disallowed the goal after it was pretty clear Burke committed a foul.

To say this game was a veritable slog would be an understatement. Neither team found a way to consistently test the opposing goalkeeper, both of whom are among the better talents at the position in MLS. That fact gets reinforced by the fact that the first shot on goal, from Crew SC striker Gyasi Zardes, didn’t come until the 79th minute.

The Black and Gold return to the road for their next two games. It begins next Saturday when they take on the Montreal Impact. After that contest, they have 15 days off before facing Orlando City SC in central Florida on October 21. After that comes the season finale at home when Columbus welcomes Minnesota United FC to MAPFRE Stadium on October 28.

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