CHARLESTON, S.C. – Score line aside, the gap in pedigree between the Columbus Crew and Charleston Battery on Saturday night was clear. This was a Crew side with an international flavor, boasting five players who had pulled on their nation’s colors.
It was not a Crew side, however, that walked away with a victory from it’s opening match at the Carolina Challenge Cup. Thanks to goals at the end of each half, the Battery made any gap in quality – perceived or otherwise – moot.
Predictably, Columbus head coach Robert Warzycha wasn’t pleased to see his side piddle away two leads.
“Obviously, I’m not [happy about it],” Warzycha told MLSsoccer.com following the match. “We had the lead in the first half, and we gave up the goal at the end of the first half. The same thing happened in the second half. Sometimes you have to be lucky, but more than anything we have to make sure you work hard [to prevent that from happening].”
In both cases, the goals were no more than the Battery deserved, but that didn’t make them any easier to stomach from Columbus’ perspective.
After the Crew had taken a 1-0 lead in the just six minutes into the match from a calm finish by Eddie Gaven, the hosts finished off a move in the 40th minute that was similar in set up and the final touch, as Dane Kelly slotted a low shot past Andy Gruenebaum to send the match to halftime all tied up.
That lapse was pushed aside when Milovan Mirosevic gave the Crew a second-half lead from the spot, but the Battery weren’t done. The game-tying goal came in the 89th minute, as Charleston threw numbers forward and evened things up when Carlos Mendes was adjudged to have pulled down Salieu Bundu in the box.
“They pushed for the goal, they had some momentum and then they scored the goal in the end,” Warzycha said. “We have to do better to try to be on the end of those crosses.”
Still, it wasn’t all disappointment for Columbus. Ethan Finlay was active on the left flank, feeding Gaven for the opening goal. Mirosevic was calm and collected in the midfield, opening up space for his teammates through his pinpoint distribution and movement.
Unfortunately, none of that equated to a victory in the end.
“We had some moments,” Warzycha said. “I’ll put it that way.”