Afful Mabwati Meram CLBv
Trevor Ruszkowski / USA Today Sports Images

Crew SC earns point against Rapids behind Mabwati strike

Columbus Crew SC split points with the top team in Major League Soccer, when it drew 1-1 with the Colorado Rapids at MAPFRE Stadium Saturday night.

A crisp finish from midfielder Cedrick Mabwati in the 23rd minute gave the Black & Gold the lead, but a second-half equalizer from Colorado’s Kevin Doyle left Columbus with just one point in the end. Crew SC’s defense performed well, recording 13 clearances and winning 48 duels, and goalkeeper Steve Clark made four saves on the night.

Both teams came out of the locker rooms with high pressure and energy in the first 45, creating multiple opportunities on each end of the pitch. In the 10th minute, Colorado’s Shkelzen Gashi curled a free kick towards the Crew SC goal, but saw his chance pushed away on a great save by Clark. Seven minutes later, an aerial through ball by Federico Higuain found a streaking Harrison Afful, but the defender’s shot from close range was saved by Rapids’ ‘keeper Zac MacMath.

The Ghanaian international, however, would soon get another chance to help Crew SC get on the board. In the 23rd minute, after a deflected shot from Mabwati, the ball fell to the feet of Afful. He made one cut-back move and centered an easy pass to Mabwati, who hit a rocket into the top left corner to give Crew SC the 1-0 advantage on his first goal of the season.

The Black & Gold held their lead until the break, but at the start of the second 45, Colorado stepped up its game and intensity. On their first corner of the match in the 55th, Gashi curled in the set piece to find a waiting Doyle, who finished a header past Clark to equalize for the Western Conference side.

The Rapids had a chance to take the lead in the 73rd minute, when Clark blocked a shot by Doyle into the path of a streaking Gashi. The Colorado midfielder attempted to put the rebound into the back of the net, but Clark would again be there to make another save.

Crew SC had its own chances to steal the advantage and three points from the match in the final 15 minutes. In the 82nd minute, Afful curled in a cross to Ola Kamara, whose header was goal bound before being saved by MacMath.

In the final minute of stoppage time, Afful again flew a cross into Colorado’s penalty area, this time to Higuain. Pipa ran towards the near post and attempted to put a shot on frame, but the cross was inches out of his reach.

The final whistle blew and in front of 15,023 supporters, the Black & Gold claimed one point from the Western Conference and Supporter’s Shield leaders. The Black & Gold’s next travel to Canada to take Toronto FC on Saturday. Kickoff at BMO Field is set for 7:30 p.m.