The 10-man Columbus Crew SC sunk to a 2-2 draw in Orlando on Saturday night as goals from Tony Tchani and Kei Kamara were countered by a Kaka penalty and a late equalizer from Pedro Ribeiro. It was the second such draw in as many games for Columbus, who last week saw a 2-0 lead slip away against the Chicago Fire.
Columbus, in the midst of an arduous stretch of five games in 16 games, rotated their defensive lineup by starting Hector Jimenez and Tyson Wahl to replace Chris Klute and Emanuel Pogatetz. Mohammed Saeid also returned from his one-game suspension, relieving Kevan George at defensive midfield.
The Crew jumped out to an early lead when Tony Tchani capped a sweeping move up the right flank with a headed shot from Hector Jimenez’ cross. Ethan Finlay started the play by drawing Orlando’s Luke Boden out of position, allowing Jimenez to slip into space behind the left back. Jimenez’ cross was then met by Tchani, who easily out-jumped Rafael Ramos and placed his header off the turf and inside Tally Hall’s right post.
Tchani’s early goal gave Columbus some hope of earning their first road victory of 2015, but the path got considerably harder in the 15th minute. Center back Michael Parkhurst was given a straight red card for handling the ball on the goal line while defending a corner kick. Referee Silviu Petrescu was well positioned to observe the play, but replays seemed to indicate that Parkhurst’s arm was tucked tightly against his chest. Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter told the Columbus Dispatch after the game that he had not decided whether to appeal the ejection. If it stands, this would be the first ejection of Parkhurst’s career.
Kaka converted the ensuing penalty kick, leveling the teams at a goal apiece.
The ejection forced Columbus into a reactive substitution. Playmaker Federico Higuain was replaced by defender Emanuel Pogatetz, simultaneously blunting the Columbus possession strategy and scuttling plans to rest the Austrian international for the games ahead.
Orlando took advantage of their numerical superiority, building a dominant edge in possession through the rest of the game. The final statistics showed Orlando enjoying nearly a 2-1 advantage, with Columbus only holding the ball 35% of the game.
Despite that edge, however, it was Columbus who scored the game’s next goal. After replacing Justin Meram at halftime with Kristinn Steindorsson, Columbus got their second goal of the game with another header off a cross. This time it was Waylon Francis who provided the service, standing up Rafael Ramos before chipping the ball in front of goal. Kei Kamara gained separation from Luke Boden, and snapped his header off the turf and inside the left post in a mirror image of Tchani’s strike.
Columbus shortly used their final substitution, sending on Chris Klute for Hector Jimenez for the final half hour. Orlando made the expected offensive substitutions, piling pressure on the Columbus defense as the game wound down.
Orlando thought they had scored in the 75th minute when goalkeeper Steve Clark caught a corner kick and stepped backwards towards his own net. Several Orlando players protested that Clark carried the ball over his goal line, and the crowd in the stadium erupted in protest as the replay was shown on the video board, but Petrescu and the linesman made no call. Broadcast replays did not appear to conclusively support either ruling.
Several other chances to equalize went begging over the game’s closing stages, but in the 89th minute Pedro Ribeiro finally broke the visitor’s hopes. With the Columbus defense run ragged, and Saeid and Tchani farther up field, Ribeiro struck a long range shot from in front of the center backs that screamed past Steve Clark’s desperate lunge and inside the left post.
What it means
The draw, combined with results elsewhere on Saturday, leaves a tight cluster of five teams in the middle of the Eastern Conference standings. New York leads the group with 17 points in third place, followed by Toronto and Columbus with 16. Chicago and Orlando bring up the rear, both with 14 points.
Crew SC have a record of four wins, four losses, and four draws, with 16 points from 12 games played. This is the same record and points that the team held last season at this stage.
Columbus has yet to win a game on the road in 2015, with three losses and three draws from six away games. Their two goals on Saturday were just the third and fourth goals scored away from Columbus this year.
Parkhurst’s ejection is the first of his MLS career, a span of more than 100 games.
Columbus next travels to Philadelphia on Wednesday as the team continues its stretch of four league games – and an exhibition – in three weeks. The sequence concludes next Saturday with a home game against Montreal.
Timeline of events
5′ Corner kick, Orlando (right side – no shot taken)
6′ 1-0 Tony Tchani (Hector Jimenez, Ethan Finlay)
14′ Corner kick, Orlando (right side – foul called)
15′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – penalty called)
16′ Ejection, Michael Parkhurst (handling the ball)
17′ 1-1 Kaka (penalty kick)
19′ Emanuel Pogatetz replaces Federico Higuain
23′ Corner kick, Columbus (right side – caught by Tally Hall)
26′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – headed clear by Kamara)
31′ Corner kick, Columbus (left side – no shot taken)
32′ Caution, Justin Meram (tactical foul on Rafael Ramos)
40′ Caution, Hector Jimenez (professional foul on Carlos Rivas)
47+ Caution, Carlos Rivas (simulation)
45′ Kristinn Steindorsson replaces Justin Meram
47′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – headed clear by Pogatetz)
51′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – foul called on Orlando)
60′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – foul called on Sean St. Ledger)
61′ 2-1 Kei Kamara (Waylon Francis)
64′ Chris Klute replaces Hector Jimenez
66′ Martin Paterson replaces Carlos Rivas
70′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – headed clear by Kamara)
71′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – headed shot blocked)
72′ Pedro Ribeiro replaces Cyle Larin
73′ Lewis Neal replaces Eric Avila
75′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – caught by Steve Clark)
77′ Corner kick, Orlando (left side – headed clear by Wahl)
79′ Corner kick, Orlando (right side – headed clear by Tchani)
81′ Corner kick, Orlando (right side – blocked at near post)
82′ Corner kick, Orlando (right side – headed clear by Pogatetz)
89′ 2-2 Pedro Ribeiro (unassisted)
90′ Caution, Mohammed Saeid (delay of game)
91+ Caution, Chris Klute (delay of game)
91+ Caution, Waylon Francis (tactical foul on Kaka)
Columbus Crew SC
Steve Clark, Hector Jimenez (Chris Klute 64′), Michael Parkhurst (sent off 16′), Tyson Wahl, Waylon Francis, Mohammed Saeid, Tony Tchani, Ethan Finlay, Federico Higuain (Emanuel Pogatetz 19′), Justin Meram (Kristinn Steindorsson 45′), Kei Kamara
Brad Stuver, Kevan George, Ben Speas, Aaron Schoenfeld
Orlando City SC
Tally Hall, Rafael Ramos, Sebastian Hines, Sean St. Ledger, Luke Boden, Darwin Ceren, Cristian Higuita, Eric Avila (Lewis Neal 73′), Kaka, Carlos Rivas (Martin Paterson 66′), Cyle Larin (Pedro Ribeiro 72′)
Donovan Ricketts, Amobi Okugo, Aurelien Collin, Harrison Heath