A match that began 67 days ago finally came to a conclusion on Wednesday nigh between the Columbus Crew and Charlotte FC, completing a postponed match that grew in MLS Cup playoff implications in the months following the original kickoff. Unfortunately, the Black & Gold give up another two-goal lead away from home, settling for a late 2-2 draw.
It was an odd feeling to see the match start in the 16th minute, but once it began, it felt like mid-match energy. Columbus challenged first when winger Derrick Etienne Jr. found forward Cucho Hernández whose shot was deflected back to Etienne but the final shot went out for a goal kick. In the 28th minute, forward Ben Bender got on the end of a cross deep in the Crew defensive penalty area. It looked like a perfect spot to go ahead, but Bender hit the show wide, with the Crew pleading for offside.
Within eight minutes, Bender had another chance, trying to catch goalkeeper Eloy Room off his line from midfield. The chance didn’t cause too many hearts to race because Room got back and stopped it cleanly. Shortly after, the visitors secured a free kick at midfield. Within a foot inside of the touchline, playmaker Lucas Zelarayán threw his name in the team’s Goal of the Year competition when he launched a shot that curved right below the crossbar and over the head of goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina.
Coming out of the halftime locker room, Charlotte recognized they needed a change and brought in Daniel Rios and Derrick Jones. Both became key players for Charlotte in their recent three-match winning streak. With new blood on the field for the side needing a win, the Black & Gold still controlled the narrative.
Early in the half Díaz was taken down right outside of the penalty area, but the close-range free kick by Zelarayán but couldn’t repeat the magic of the first half attempt. Morris then found himself open at the top of the penalty area, but a shot didn’t have enough behind it to challenge Kahlina.