COLUMBUS, Ohio – In a match that perhaps deserved more goals, the Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls played to a 1-1 draw highlighted by a Jairo Arrieta penalty kick and a stunning individual effort from Bradley Wright-Phillips.
The draw, Columbus’ third straight, keep the Crew (3-1-3) atop the Eastern Conference standings, while New York (2-2-5) continue their surge with a three-game unbeaten run after starting the season winless in their first six games.
Rather than protect against fatigue in their third game in 10 days, New York head coach Mike Petke named the same starting lineup as Wednesday's 4-0 rout of the Houston Dynamo, while Columbus’ Gregg Berhalter replaced the suspended Bernardo Anor with Justin Meram.
And Columbus looked frazzled by the early pressure applied by New York after their last three opponents – Toronto, San Jose and DC – all seemed comfortable with sitting back in defense against the possession-oriented Crew attack. If not for excellent goalkeeping from Steve Clark, New York would have been on the board in the first five minutes.
But as New York pressure dropped, the Crew became more comfortable in possession and dealt better with the Red Bulls' attack. New York's duo of Thierry Henry and Wright-Phillips, so prolific in their midweek 4-0 drubbing of Houston, were held in check for much of the first half, finding space tough to come by in the Columbus third.
Costa Rican forward Arrieta opened scoring in the 39th minute after Meram earned a penalty while trying to get on the end of a cross just outside the 6-yard box. New York defender Kosuke Kimura dragged Meram to the ground, and referee Geoff Gamble whistled for a penalty that few disagreed with.
Arrieta stepped up for the penalty kick – rather than Columbus' usual spot kick specialist Federico Higuain – and slammed a hard shot off of the underside of Luis Robles's crossbar, giving the Crew an ever-important first goal before the half.
New York's answer came in the 66th minute, when Wright-Phillips made a juggling turn just outside the Crew box and hit a perfectly placed volley into Clark's far post. The keeper was powerless to stop the shot that bounced off the inside of the bar and into the goal, drawing New York level with less than half an hour to play and continuing Wright-Phillips's hot streak.
The Red Bulls seemed to succumb to tired legs in the final 30 minutes of the match, dropping deep and emulating the popular strategy to shut down the Crew offense. Despite introducing multiple offensive-minded substitutes in the game's final minutes, including speedy forward Dominic Oduro, the Crew could not break the New York defense, icing the draw.
Columbus next travel to Sporting Kansas City on May 4, while New York visit FC Dallas the same day.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Steve Clark||Played a big part in turning away New York's early pressure, recorded five saves|
|2||Luis Robles||In a game where the goalkeepers were the stars, Robles came up with two big saves|
|3||Bradley Wright-Phillips||Finds a goal out of nothing to stay red hot|