Picture Credits: Columbus Crew
Columbus had a two-week break to shore up some injuries and get healthy. Well, the opposite of that happened, and they came back for a match against Charlotte FC with nine players on the injury report. That would be a key storyline in this game, as four key starters missed through injury.
Pedro Santos, Jonathon Mensah, Lucas Zelerayan, Yaw Yeboah and Artur were not fit enough to play a role in this match. But for the number of injuries that came before the match, there was also some good news on the injury front.
After tearing his ACL for the third time in his career last August, Porter mentioned in his pre-game media availability that Kevin Molino would be available to play Saturday night. Coming off an injury like that will take time, but Molino was able to give the Black and Gold a good 25 minutes in his return.
Another player that returned from injury was winger Luis Diaz, as he had missed the previous couple of games after fracturing his hand.
You could tell that the Black and Gold had two weeks off, as the first half was somewhat slow.
With both goals, especially Columbus's coming via mistakes, it was a game that the Black and Gold should have held on to win.
Erik Hurtado, making his second straight start, gave the Black and Gold the lead in the 41st minute when Charlotte goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina took a heavy touch, allowing Hurtado to pounce on the mistake that would give Columbus the lead heading into halftime.
It wouldn't take Charlotte long to equalize though, as Andre Shinyashiki tied things up in the 50th minute, where the game would finish 40 minutes later.
"It was a tale of two halves," Porter said in his post-game media availability. "I thought the first half was a tight half. There weren't many chances, but I thought we executed pretty well in a new system with a bunch of guys out."
"I was really pleased going up a goal, and them not having many chances", Porter said about the first-half performance of his team.
"I think we just lost focus on the goal", Porter said about the goal that his team conceded. "From there, I thought our response for the next 15-20 minutes was not what I wanted."
Though the result was not what the Black and Gold wanted, there were some positives.
First, the Black and Gold gave first-team debuts to two of their reserve team guys, Jacen Russell-Rowe and Mohamed Farsi, who both were given their chance late in the second half.
Columbus Still Cannot Score Consistently
This, in theory, will change with the new arrival of Cucho Hernandez from Watford. But, once, again, the Crew could not score more than once. They did, however, have the chance to play from in front with a lead, but they were not able to keep it. Once Columbus is able to score and take their chances consistently, coupled with the imminent arrival of Hernandez, Columbus should be among the best teams in the league.
Following the match, Caleb Porter told the media that throughout the match, he deployed four different formations in this match, including starting in a 3-5-2. The tactical flexibility that Porter is starting to see and use could be a huge asset in the future. With Cucho coming in and having different options in Berry and Hurtado on the bench, the ability to deploy different formations is a big positive.
Columbus will hit the road for the next two matches, beginning with Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Real Salt Lake, who are surprising a lot of people, currently sit second in the Western Conference on 28 points, just two behind West-leading LAFC. Kickoff is set for 10:00 p.m. EST.