In a grueling eight-month MLS season, successful teams find a way to earn points even when most of the match doesn't fall in their favor.
Trailing 1-0 with less than 10 minutes left to go in Saturday's match at home against D.C. United, the Crew looked certain to be headed for defeat when Bernardo Anor was sent off in the 81st minute for a two-footed tackle on United's Perry Kitchen. Instead, the Black & Gold kept their composure and fought through the adversity. The effort was rewarded when midfielder Wil Trapp tracked back to dispossess an attacking Fabian Espíndola at the edge of the Crew's 18-yard-box and sent a 40-plus-yard pass across the field to Hector Jimenez in the attacking third. Jimenez curled his shot around D.C. 'keeper Andrew Dykstra to rescue a result in the 90th minute for the home team.
"That was a real play," Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said of Trapp's effort. "That’s why [Trapp] is who he is. That’s amazing. First, he recovers off of [Fabian] Espíndola, then he takes the ball from him, then he drives I don’t know how long, then he makes a pass. That’s a real play by a real player."
Added the goalscorer Jimenez: "Before I kicked it, I saw a little gap and I was just happy it went in. We would have loved to have three points tonight, but it’s always nice to get one."
Though the Crew had hoped for three points on the evening, the result was a true reflection of the club's character having battled back from being a goal -- and a man -- down.
"A result in that game was looking grim, and they were really tight and defensive oriented and we went down a man," said Berhalter. "But, the guys didn’t quit and I commend them on that. I said we have to get better, but that effort not to give up in that game and get something out of that game, to me, was spectacular."
Echoed Jimenez: "It shows a lot about the team’s character. We didn’t have a great start going down 1-0. I love that we took the challenge, and didn’t back down from the physical game that was going on. I am really proud of the team, and hopefully a game like this will carry us on throughout the season."
The draw kept the Crew atop the Eastern Conference, sharing the lead with Sporting Kansas City on 11 points so far this season. The Black & Gold close out the current homestand next week when they host the New York Red Bulls (TICKETS).