Columbus Crew SC Playoff Status Remains Up in the Air After Loss in Orlando

Columbus Crew SC Playoff

Orlando, FL (October 21, 2018) — It’s close, but Columbus Crew SC isn’t in the postseason just yet.

A confluence of factors played a part in that reality, including their 2-1 defeat to Orlando City SC on Sunday. Sacha Kljestan’s second-half stoppage time penalty kick broke a deadlock and gave the Lions its first win of any kind since July 14.

Columbus Crew SC Playoff Status Still Not Confirmed After Loss to Orlando City SC

In addition to that result, the Montreal Impact upended Toronto FC by a score of 2-0. That means the Impact are just two points behind Columbus for the sixth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Black and Gold fell to the six spot in the East due to D.C. United‘s dominating 3-1 win over New York City FC. All of it will make for a harrowing Decision Day game against Minnesota United in one week’s time.

Columbus certainly remains in control of its own destiny. All they need to do is hold serve in their first-ever home meeting against Minnesota to clinch their fourth playoff berth in five years under current manager Gregg Berhalter. But even a draw combined with an Impact win means they’d be on the outside looking in due to Montreal’s superior win total, which is the first tiebreaker.

The two sides played to a scoreless stalemate during the first 45 minutes. But the visitors drew first blood early in the second half courtesy of Federico Higuain. The Argentinian playmaker showcased his impressive set piece ability with a laser in the 54th minute that beat Orlando goalkeeper Adam Grinwis.

But the story of this game in its immediate aftermath centered around Crew SC defensive miscues which resulted in penalties. The first came three minutes after Higuain put Columbus ahead when Gaston Sauro handled the ball in the box. It left referee Kevin Stott no choice but to point to the spot. Yoshimar Yotun, a few days removed from representing Peru in a friendly against the United States, converted the penalty panenka style.

As the game transitioned into the stretch run, Columbus’ ability to escape Orlando with a draw seemed to hang by a thread. There was plenty of emergency defending late in the second half as a means of preserving the draw. And they appeared to have it when the four minutes of stoppage time elapsed.

But Stott didn’t blow for time despite there not being any noticeable breaks in play during the extra minutes. It ultimately enabled Orlando to benefit. Second-half substitute Chris Mueller dribbled into the box and had Milton Valenzuela and Wil Trapp trying to dispossess him. But Trapp made contact with his legs and took him down. Stott indicated penalty for the second time and Sacha Kljestan made no mistake with the finish.

Next week’s Crew SC season finale from MAPFRE Stadium kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET.

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