For the second straight year, Columbus Crew SC advanced out of the Knockout Round on a penalty kick shootout on the road, edging D.C. United, 3-2 in the shootout after the teams played to a 2-2 draw after 120 minutes Thursday night.
As he did in Atlanta a year ago, Zack Steffen again played the hero, diving to deny both Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta in the shootout. Nick DeLeon, who struck for a 116th-minute equalizer, had a chance to send the shootout into a sixth round, but he skied his attempt as the Crew celebrated in front of a stunned sellout crowd at Audi Field.
Frederic Brillant gave D.C. United the lead on 21 minutes after Steffen spilled an Acosta endline cross into the central defender’s path in front of goal.
A little less than 10 minutes later, Higuain leveled, sliding in to knock in a loose ball on the edge of the six-yard box.
Higuain’s second goal of the game, a rare header, gave Crew SC their first lead six minutes into extra time. But DeLeon leveled 20 minutes later, sending Audi Field into a frenzy when he intercepted an attempted Gyasi Zardes clearance and hit a volley that found its way through traffic and inside the near post from 20 yards out.
- 21’ — DC — Frederic Brillant | WATCH
- 30’ — CLB — Federico Higuain | WATCH
- 96’ — CLB — Federico Higuain | WATCH
- 116’ — DC — Nick DeLeon | WATCH
- THE BIG PICTURE: So it happened again. After shocking Atlanta United at Mercedes-Benz Stadium a year ago, advancing on penalty kicks, history repeated itself at Audi Field. Steffen atoned for a mistake on D.C. United’s first goal to make two huge shootout saves. Meanwhile, the vaunted LuchoRoo, who marched United into the postseason, both missed their attempts in another Knockout Round ouster.
- MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Steffen claims he doesn’t like penalty kick shootouts — they make him nervous, he says. Yet, he sure does come up huge in them. This save on Rooney set the tone of the shootout.
- MAN OF THE MATCH: Steffen was massive in the shootout, but Crew SC doesn’t get there if not for the ageless Higuain, who went from playmaker to goal scorer with the brace. And he also converted his penalty kick.
- D.C.: End of season
- CLB: Eastern Conference Semifinals | Sunday, November 4 vs. New York Red Bulls