CHARLESTON, S.C. – Columbus gave up goals at the end of each half, including a game-tying penalty kick in the 89th minute, giving the Charleston Battery the only openings they needed to salvage a 2-2 draw at Blackbaud Stadium in both side’s opening match at the Carolina Challenge Cup on Saturday.
The Crew were just minutes away from walking away with a 2-1 victory by virtue of a second-half Milovan Mirosevic penalty kick when Carlos Mendes pulled down Salieu Bundu inside the box. The referee pointed to the spot and produced a second yellow card and subsequent red for Mendes before Jose Cuevas stepped up to put the spot kick down the middle for the draw.
Despite allowing victory to slip away in the final minutes, Columbus put the pressure on the hosts for most of 90 minutes, threatening through Ethan Finlay and Eddie Gaven on the wings and the vision and passing ability of Mirosevic. The opening goal cane shortly after kick off, as Finlay picked out Gaven in the sixth minute with a square ball for a simple finish from 10 yards out.
Columbus didn’t slow down from there, dominating play and closing down passing lanes to keep the hosts at bay, but they couldn’t find a way past Battery ‘keeper Alec Kann, which gave their opponents the opportunity to claw back into the match. Charleston got their goal five minutes before the end of the first half, capping an extended period of pressure with a calm finish by the pesky Dane Kelly, who slotted past Crew goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum off a feed from Cuevas.
Mirosevic gave the visitor’s the lead 58 minutes into the second half from the penalty spot after Emilio Renteria was bundled over in the penalty area, but Columbus failed to close out the game and settled for the draw.
CLB – Eddie Gaven (Ethan Finlay) 6
CHS – Dane Kelly (Jose Cuevas) 40
CLB – Mirovan Mirosevic (penalty kick) 58
CHS – Cuevas (penalty kick) 89
CHS – Colin Falvey(caution) 30
CHS –Tony Tchani (caution) 42
CLB – Carlos Mendes (caution) 45
CLB -- Tony Tchani (caution) 61
CLB -- Mendes (caution, ejection) 89
Columbus Crew – Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Carlos Mendes, Shaun Francis (Nemanja Vukovic 46), Eddie Gaven, Tony Tchani (Danny O’Rourke 61), Milovan Mirosevic (Cole Grossman 84), Ethan Finlay (Aaron Horton 82), Olman Vargas (Kirk Urso 46), Emilio Renteria (Tommy Heinemann 70)
Charleston Battery – Alec Kann, Mark Wiltse (Greg McNamara 46), Colin Falvey (Cody Ellison 46, Luca Bellisimo 51), Kyle Hoffer, Sean Flatley (Charlie Romero 46), Fuad Ibrahim (Sean Bateau 46), Cordell Simpson (Taylor Mueller 46), Jose Cuevas, J.C. Mack (Orlando McBayne 63), Dane Kelly, Zach Prince (Salieu Bundu 76)