A Columbus Crew SC side missing several key players due to injuries and international call-ups came up short in a 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Union at Talen Energy Stadium Wednesday night.
Only 16 players were available to Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter for the clash with the Eastern Conference leaders. Among them were youngsters Ben Swanson and Cristian Martinez, who made their Major League Soccer debuts during the second half in Philly.
Martinez celebrated his debut with his first MLS goal, a perfectly placed header off an Ethan Finlay cross, in the third minute of stoppage time. The goal, however, was too little too late for the Black & Gold after Chris Pontius (21st), Vincent Nogueira (57th) and Fabian Herbers (84th) put the Union 3-1 ahead.
Crew SC’s Ola Kamara had opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a volley after another beautiful delivery by Finlay. It was Kamara’s fourth goal in two matches, and the striker earned his second Barbasol Man of the Match honor in a row.
Both Crew SC and the Union had numerous opportunities to add to their tallies as they fired 13 and 17 shots, respectively. The best chances for the Black & Gold came from Kamara (37th) and Justin Meram (65th), who missed by just inches.
Crew SC kept pushing for the equalizer, but the Black & Gold faced an uphill battle, particularly after forward Conor Casey was sent off with a red card in the 77th, just three minutes after he had come on as a substitute. The former Union striker was ejected for what was deemed violent conduct on Keegan Rosenberry, but even the rookie seemed surprised by the call.
The loss ended a four-game unbeaten streak for the Black & Gold, who enter the Copa America break with 3-5-5 record. Crew SC will return to action on June 15, when it hosts the Tampa Bay Rowdies in the Fourth Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. The match kicks off at Ohio State’s Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium at 7 p.m.