The Columbus Crew stumbled in front of a sellout crowd on Saturday night, losing 1-0 to the Seattle Sounders despite playing for most of the game with a man advantage. Eddie Johnson scored the game's only goal, flicking a header past Lampson in the 14th minute.
Rookie forward Ryan Finley, making his first start as a professional, was involved in a turning point in the seventh minute. Breaking through the Seattle back line in the center circle, he was pulled down by Leo Gonzalez - the last Sounders defender. Gonzalez was immediately ejected by referee Ismail Elfath. forcing the Sounders to play the next 83 minutes shorthanded.
Both teams missed chances to open the scoring shortly after the ejection. Matt Lampson punched a cross into the onrushing Eddie Johnson in the ninth minute, only for the ball to carom off his chest and harmlessly past the post. Less than a minute later, Jairo Arrieta won a footrace with Michael Gspurning, but his looping header toward the empty net also bounced shy of the post.
Seattle took the lead in the 14th minute through a goal that was very similar to that scored in front of 67,000 last weekend against Portland. Mauro Rosales sent a free kick into the heart of the penalty area, where Eddie Johnson sent a glancing header just past the outstretched hand of Matt Lampson.
Columbus pressured for an equalizer throughout the rest of the game, but despite an increasingly overwhelming edge in possession and shots the needed goal never came. Dominic Oduro sent a dangerous low cross into the goal mouth that was blocked in the 33rd minute, while substitute Konrad Warzycha sent a header off the crossbar in the 76th minute. Oduro hmself had shots saved in the 59th and 80th minute, slashing in from the flank only to see his efforts slip past the post.
The Crew finished the game having taken 24 shots, but only put three on target. The team held steep leads in possession (57%), total passes (409 to 301) and passing accuracy (83% to 74%) - and found plenty of possession down the flanks of the Sounders defense, but were unable to produce the sort of dangerous scoring chances that might be expected from a team with a man advantage.
Originally scheduled for a 7:30 PM kickoff, the game was delayed for more than an hour and a half due to a series of storms that passed through central Ohio. The delay thinned the crowd a bit, putting a damper on the Crew's first sellout in almost two years. The announced attendance of 20,392 was the largest since September 24, 2011 when more than 21,000 fans watched the team lose 1-0 to Los Angeles.
What it means
The loss, the team's second straight, leaves them increasingly out of touch with the trio of teams they must catch to qualify for the postseason. New England, only a single point ahead of Columbus two games ago, now holds and eight point advantage in the final playoff position in the Eastern Conference. Between Columbus and the Revolution sit Houston (seven points ahead) and Chicago (five ahead). Both the Dynamo and Fire have played two fewer games than the Revolution and Crew.
Timeline of events
7' Ejection, Leo Gonzalez (pulled down Ryan Finley as last defender)
14' 0-1 Eddie Johnson (Mauro Rosales)
20' Servando Carrasco replaces Brad Evans
21' Caution, Danny O'Rourke (professional foul on Clint Dempsey)
29' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - shot missed by Viana)
36' Caution, Agustin Viana (persistent infringement)
38' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - header blocked)
41' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - cleared)
46+' Corner kick, Seattle (left side - cleared)
48' Corner kick, Seattle (left side - headed clear)
52' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - too long)
61' Konrad Warzycha replaces Agustin Viana
61' Djimi Traore replaces Eddie Johnson
70' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - headed clear)
73' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed wide by Marshall)
73' Ethan Finlay replaces Justin Meram
74' Marc Burch replaces Mauro Rosales
77' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - low and cleared)
83' Corner kick, Seattle (left side - cleared)
91+' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - headed high by Marshall)
92+' Corner kick, Columbus (right side - shot blocked)
Matt Lampson, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke, Agustin Viana (Konrad Warzycha 61'), Wil Trapp, Dominic Oduro, Bernardo Anor, Justin Meram (Ethan Finlay 73'), Jairo Arrieta, Ryan Finley
Daniel Withrow, Tyson Wahl, Chad Barson, Kevan George, Tony Tchani
Michael Gspurning, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Zach Scott, Leo Gonzalez (sent off 7'), DeAndre Yedlin, Osvaldo Alonso, Lamar Neagle, Mauro Rosales (Marc Burch 74'), Brad Evans (Servando Carrasco 20'), Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson (Djimi Traore 61')
Marcus Hahnemann, Patrick Ianni, David Estrada, Eriq Zavaleta