After dominant first half, Columbus Crew SC left to settle for draw

COLUMBUS, Ohio – For Columbus Crew SC, Saturday’s 1-1 home draw against the New York Red Bulls felt significantly different than another tie in Mapfre Stadium a week earlier.

Last weekend, Columbus was dominated by Toronto FC for 60 minutes before pulling off the first three-goal comeback in team history to earn a dramatic 3-3 draw.

Seven days later against New York on Saturday, it was Columbus doing the early work with a barrage of attacks. With just one goal to show for their efforts, a flurry of action from New York after the break earned the visitors a point.

For head coach Gregg Berhalter, the draw felt worse than the point earned against Toronto, after he watched the first half knowing one goal wouldn’t be enough.

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“We let them back into it," he said. "To me, it comes down to not finishing our opportunities in the first half.”

In that first half, Columbus generated a plethora of chances, testing Luis Robles six times on a staggering 15 shots. But with two shots banging off the frame and Robles coming up huge, Columbus could only find the net once through Gyasi Zardes' header.

“If those chances go in, I think we win the game,” Mike Grella said. “In the second half, I think we lost our shape a little bit. Credit to them getting back in the game, but I think it was more on us. I think we lost our shape, we lost our focus and we just kind of let them back in the game. I don’t think they did much to get back into the game.”

For Grella, that consistency is what Columbus needs to fix. He said Crew SC “looked like a different team” in the minutes after halftime, which ultimately led to Alex Muyl's 57th minute equalizer.

“In the first half, we’re one of the best teams in the league, from what I see,” Grella said. “And then in the second half, the first 15 minutes didn’t look good at all.”

Berhalter admitted the game was a “frustrating” one, but said he could still see it as an important lesson to his young squad.

“I think the learning experience is that if you let a good team like that hang around, you’re in trouble,” he said. “That’s what we did. We realize that we had enough opportunities that we should have opened the (lead) up more.”