For the third time in as many matches away from home this season, the Crew picked up a point on the road following Sunday's 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes.
Looking for an inspired start following last week's 2-0 loss at home to Toronto FC, the Crew came out of the gates firing in the first half to dictate the tempo early. Just before the halftime whistle, leftback Waylon Francis found Federico Higuaín alone in the box for his team-leading fourth goal of the season and move him into ninth place on the Crew's all-time scoring list.
After the break, however, it was the Earthquakes who imposed their game on the Black & Gold to test goalkeeper Steve Clark early and often in the second half. It took all of six minutes for San Jose to equalize as forward Chris Wondolowski headed Shea Salinas' corner kick into the net to put the match on level terms, where the match would remain for the next 40-plus minutes.
"We came into the game very well," Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said after the match. "I thought we had a good first half. The first five minutes in the second half could have been better. We gave the ball away too much in spots that led to corner kicks or throw-ins deep in our end. Unfortunately, we paid for that. After the goal, we got together and we played okay and I am pleased with the result.”
He continued: "We treat home and away [matches] the same way. We want to go out and play our game. We want to try to impose our game on the opponent. It doesn't matter where we are, we try to accomplish that."
Forward Dominic Oduro had the best chance to win it for the Crew later in the half, but his shot deflected off the crossbar to leave the Black & Gold with a point to take back to Columbus.
“From my end, it looked like the ball was dipping," Oduro said of the attempt. "I thought it was a goal, but the goal post is always the goalie's friend. I think the goalie's friend helped [the Earthquakes] out.”
Though disappointed with the draw, the Crew now has sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with the point earned on Sunday. The Black & Gold continue to look for improvement despite wins in four of their first six matches this season.
“I’m disappointed that we let them come from behind, disappointed that we gave up a set-piece goal" said Clark. "Moving forward, it’s a point on the road, right? Moving forward, we look to continue to get better."
The Crew returns to action next Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET / Time Warner Cable SportsChannel), hosting D.C. United at Crew Stadium.