The second public preseason match of Columbus Crew SC's 2017 Carolina Challenge Cup saw the Black & Gold finish level with the tournament-host Charleston Battery on Wednesday at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The sides swapped goals for a 1-1 draw and a point apiece on Matchday 2 of the #CCC17.
"Charleston was very compact and they had 10 to 11 men behind the ball," Crew SC Sporting Director and Head Coach Gregg Berhalter said following the match. "It became an exercise of 'how can we break them down,' and they did a good job. We have to give them credit. We weren't precise enough, particularly in the first half, but all in all we created some chances that we liked."
Charleston's Forrest Lasso opened with a 25th minute headed corner kick before Crew SC second-half substitute Nicolai Naess' well-placed free kick led to an own goal.
Berhalter made seven changes to his starting lineup — seeing goalkeeper Brad Stuver, Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Hector Jimenez, Tony Tchani, and Dilly Duka make their first starts of the 2017 preseason. Afful wore the captain's armband for the first 45 minutes.
The second 45 brought nine changes to Berhalter's personnel and a new shape with a three-man backline. It was Naess — entering in the 46th minute — that delivered the equalizer 18 minutes into the second half.
Fellow substitute Justin Meram was fouled just outside the Charleston 18-yard box, lining Naess up from an acute angle on the left side. The Norwegian's low and hard delivery was deflected into the near-post upper corner.
In the preseason round-robin tournament's table, Crew SC (1-0-1, 4 points in #CCC17) sits two points ahead of Seattle (0-0-2, 2 pts.) and Charleston (0-0-2, 2 pts.). Crew SC will close preseason play on Saturday, Feb. 25, against the defending MLS Cup champion Sounders with a 4:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The match will stream live on ColumbusCrewSC.com.
The 2017 Major League Soccer regular season opens on March 4 against the Chicago Fire at MAPFRE Stadium, presented by MAPFRE Insurance. The full Crew SC preseason and regular schedule can be downloaded and synced on iOS and Android devices.