COLUMBUS, Ohio – New York City FC’s star-studded trio of Andrea Pirlo, Frank Lampard and David Villa may have dominated the headlines coming into Wednesday night’s match against Columbus Crew SC, but it was a couple of newcomers and an MLS veteran – along with an hour-long severe weather delay – that defined the evening at MAPFRE Stadium.
New York City’s exciting youngster Kwadwo Poku came away with a brace, and Crew SC’s Golden Boot leader Kei Kamara recorded his 18th goal of the season – to go along with newcomer Cedrick’s late equalizer for his first goal in a Columbus shirt – in a match that ended in a 2-2 draw.
With the point, Columbus move into third place in the Eastern Conference with 35 points from 25 matches, while NYCFC climb into a tie for sixth place with 28 points from 25 games.
In the 24th minute, it was the explosive combo of Kamara and Ethan Finlay connecting once again for the match’s opening goal.
Finlay dropped his shoulder, turned around NYCFC defender Jason Hernandez and played a hard ball on the ground to Kamara, who reached out a long leg and redirected the cross past a helpless Josh Saunders.
The goal tied Kamara with Stern John for second all-time in Crew SC history, and brought Finlay back into a tie atop the league’s assist leaderboard with 14 on the season.
But New York City would find their flow in the second half and leveled the match with more than half an hour to play.
With his back to goal, Villa played a perfect through ball to a darting Poku in the 57th minute, and the Ghanaian glanced up and calmly slotted a shot past Steve Clark to draw the visitors level at 1-1.
The goal was Poku’s second in two games and third this year to go along with seven assists in his first MLS season.
The phenom wasn’t finished there, however.
In the 67th minute, Andrew Jacobson headed down a Pirlo corner kick directly to Poku, who gathered the ball and placed it perfectly into the bottom corner of Clark’s goal to give New York City a lead that seemed unlikely in the first half.
Columbus responded minutes later thanks to a wonderful piece of skill from Cedrick. The Congolese midfielder, who joined Columbus in July, came on as a substitute and immediately made a difference in the 72nd minute.
He bolted through the New York backline and touched the ball to Kamara, who deftly laid it back to the winger for a one-on-one shot past Saunders.
Just as things were heating up, Mother Nature decided the clubs needed a cool-down. Rain, thunder and lightning ripped through the area, forcing the teams off the field and fans out of their seats after 76 minutes of play.
More than an hour later, the teams trotted back onto the field to finish the final 14 minutes.
After the long break, neither squad seemed willing to risk the point, and the 2-2 scoreline held.
Both clubs play again this week, with Crew SC (9-8-8) hosting Sporting Kansas City Saturday and NYCFC (7-11-7) visiting the LA Galaxy on Sunday.