Picture Credits: Columbus Crew (via Eloy Room)
Columbus finally was able to get a win on the road. It sure was not easy, and they definitely had to grind it out, but in the end, they left Atlanta with a crucial three points heading into the international break.
First, let's discuss how crucial Eloy Room was. Room was instrumental in helping the Crew earn the 2-1 victory Saturday night, making 8 crucial saves, tying his career-high in saves with the Black and Gold. It seemed whenever Atlanta looked as if they were going to score, Room was there to thwart any attempt on the Crew net. Room helped preserve the win with a wonderful high-flying save in the fifth minute of second-half stoppage time.
"We showed a lot of heart today, a lot of fight", Columbus head coach Caleb Porter said following the team's first road win of the season. "It's a trademark MLS smash and grab result for us coming on the road."
It all started less than a minute into the game when an Atlanta United turnover would lead to a corner kick for the visiting Columbus Crew. The Black and Gold were able to capitalize on the turnover, with Pedro Santos swinging in a corner kick that Crew captain Jonothan Mensah was able to head home.
This was the first time in the history of the Columbus Crew that they scored within the first minute of the game in the regular season (happened twice in the post-season).
Just before the halftime whistle, Erik Hurtado, who got the surprise start ahead of Miguel Berry, netted his second goal of the season with a brilliant bit of individual skill that saw him curl his shot past Atlanta goalkeeper Bobby Shuttlesworth.
The Second half was more defensive for the Crew. Atlanta United dominated most of the possession, and it was not a typical Crew game, as they conceded most of the possession. Atlanta's Dom Dwyer would add a goal for the hosts in the 90+1 minute, making for an entertaining end to the match. In the end, Columbus would grind out the 2-1 win, with Atlanta's Thiago Almada and coach Gonzalo Pineda both were sent off.
Eloy Room Showed Glimpses of Courtois
Earlier in the day, Real Madrid's Thibaut Courtois basically single-handily won the UEFA Champions League for the Spanish giants. He made nine saves, and all of them were needed. Eloy Room did the same thing for the Black and Gold, racking up the aforementioned eight saves, and wheeled the Crew to the road victory.
Even though the Crew earned their first road win of the season, they did not come out of the game unscathed. The first injury to occur is Crew staple Pedro Santos, who had an assist before he had to be substituted in the 24th minute after a hamstring injury. He was replaced by Will Sands, who made just his second appearance for the Crew.
In the second half, Yaw Yeboah picked up an injury and was replaced by James Igbekeme, followed by Derrick Etienne who picked up an injury, and was eventually replaced by Josh Williams, as Caleb Porter switched to a back five.
The International Break Is Here At The Perfect Time
This might have been the best time for an international break to happen. The Crew, who went into this game already missing star midfielder Lucas Zelerayan with a knee injury, and winger Luis Diaz who fractured his wrist, added three more injuries in Pedro Santos, Yaw Yeboah, and Derrick Etienne. The two-week break will be much needed for the Black and Gold to rest up and nurse any injuries they have, so they will be ready for Charlotte.
Columbus has the next two weeks off as the international break is here. Following the lengthy break, the Black and Gold will return to Lower.com Field on Saturday, June 18 when they welcome expansion side Charlotte FC for the first-ever meeting between the clubs. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.