COLUMBUS, OH – Tuesday night’s game ended with the Columbus Crew stealing three points at home against the New York Red Bulls. The Crew had lost two straight games heading into Tuesday night. Many fans could see The Crew’s playoff hopes fading into the autumn sun. Fortunately for the black and gold faithful, Miguel Berry played the role of hero once again.
Columbus Crew stealing three points at Lower.com Field
More of the same in the first half
Before we can celebrate the Columbus Crew stealing three points we must first look back, briefly, on a less than appealing first half. The Crew came out with as best of a first-team lineup they could muster at this point in 2021. Players who had been out with injuries like Luis Diaz and Gyasi Zardes were in the starting 11. Even with a bit of a compressed schedule, Caleb Porter chose to play his stars like Lucas Zelarayán and Jonathan Mensah.
— New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls) September 15, 2021
Unfortunately, trotting out the ones wasn’t enough to keep the Red Bulls at bay. A lifeless dull first half resulted in a one-nothing lead for the energy drinks. A performance that was reminiscent of The Crew’s one nill defeat in Miami on Saturday.
Substitutions and a formation change can go a long way sometimes
Caleb Porter is oftentimes criticized for not using his bench and sticking with a rigid game plan too often. Tuesday night with the season on the line, he did not hold back. In the 60-minute, the gaffer brought on Josh Williams, Alex Matan, and Liam Fraser. Five minutes later he called on Miguel Berry.
Tactically, he pushed the full-backs up and dropped Fraser between the two center backs as Zelarayán pushed forward out wide to stretch the opponent’s backline and Darlington Nagbe had room to roam freely in the attacking center. It was a formation that forced the opponent on their heels. Any viewer understood what The Crew was trying to do—win all three points.
The changes paid off in the 74-minute. Alex Matan used his speed to get the edge deep in the New York end. The young money D.P. ripped a shot on goal that was saved but created the juiciest of rebounds for Nagbe. The Akron Zip product rose up and headed the rebound home to equalize. The Crew had life.
More Berry magic
For the next 10 minutes, Columbus stayed on their front foot. A tendency we haven’t always seen out of The Crew this year. Just two weeks ago veteran Josh Williams said the team let their foot off the gas after equalizing against Orlando. That night, Miguel Berry scored in what would ultimately be a road loss.
Tonight was different. In the 84-minute, Berry received a splendid Harrison Afful touch base just near mid-field. The soon to be 24 years old charged down the right-wing and sent a low, hard crossing pass to Zelarayan. Zelarayán teed up the ball and ripped a rocket on the net. Red Bull keeper Carlos Coronel saved the initial shot but left the ball on the doorstep for Berry. Miguel collected the rebound, beat a defender to his left, and sent the ball five-hole through the keeper’s legs for the win.
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) September 15, 2021
Former Crew coach Gregg Berhalter was a proponent of taking a season one game at a time. In all his years of late-season runs into the playoffs, during press conferences, Berhalter would almost laugh at questions that implied one win was greater than the other. He’d say that no victory had any more weight than another just because it happened in the fall.
I had a really difficult time agreeing with Berhalter after seeing the entire Columbus Crew team celebrate atop Miguel Berry after that winner. Eloy Room ran the length of the field to be involved. If I didn’t know better I would have thought Berry’s goal won Columbus its second cup in as many years.
MIGUEL BERRY. pic.twitter.com/E29udF1M2x
— The Crew (@ColumbusCrew) September 15, 2021
This team has flaws, but tonight how can you not be romantic about the Columbus Crew stealing three points? How can you not look at that celebration and think they are going to make the playoffs? How can you watch Lucas Zelareyan spill his guts out for two hours and not think he’s going to will this team to the postseason? So much has to go right for it to happen, but so much had to go right for all of us to be in that shiny new stadium by the railroad tracks tonight. Why not believe in Columbus to pull off a miracle again?
Columbus will next face the New England Revolution at 7:00 p.m. ET. The game will take place at Gillette Stadium on Saturday, September. 18. The game will be shown on MLS Live on DAZN, Bally Sports Ohio, and TV38 & MyRITV.