Controversy surrounded the 1-1 draw between the Columbus Crew and D.C. United on Saturday at Mapfre Stadium.
The Crew pulled into the lead by way of Ola Kamara in the 63rd minute, but they conceded an 89th-minute equalizer to Fabian Espindola after wrongly going down to 10 men.
Gregg Berhalter’s men went a man down in the 74th minute as Harrison Afful was whistled for going in studs up on Marcelo Sarvas. Afful got the ball on the challenge against Sarvas, who also stamped his foot on the Crew defender after the foul. The reaction to the tackle was not disciplined.
The two sides traded a few weak attempts on goal in the first half. The top denial of the opening stanza came from Steve Clark in the 38th minute as he denied Alvaro Saborio on the left side of the box.
Kamara came close to scoring two minutes into the second half as he knocked an attempt off the bottom of the left post.
Two minutes after Kamara’s strike hit the bar, Clark came up with a massive denial on Luciano Acosta to keep the game scoreless.
Kamara’s produced the opening goal while continuing his blazing-hot form as he linked up with Harrison Afful’s cross in the middle of the box in the 63rd minute. The goal was the ninth in nine starts for the Norwegian forward.
The Crew’s mood turned from celebratory to an angry one in the 74th minute as Afful was sent off for apparent contact during a tackle in his own half. The replay of the challenge showed the Crew right back got all ball and did not make any contact with Marcelo Sarvas.
With one minute left in regulation, Espindola struck for an equalizer to hand the visitors a point on the road. Steve Birnbaum headed a pass from left to right onto the boot of Alhaji Kamara, who held the ball enough to earn a deflection off Wil Trapp. The ball bounced off the leg of Trapp and onto the foot of Espindola, who beat Clark with a tidy finish.
D.C. attempted to push a second past Clark in stoppage time, but it was unsuccessful in its efforts.
Columbus returns to Mapfre Stadium on Saturday to play struggling Orlando City, while D.C. plays Toronto at BMO Field in a week’s time.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Birnbaum helped D.C. hold the Crew to a single shot on target and provided a secondary assist on Espindola’s late tally.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH
Afful’s ejection will be discussed ad nauseum over the next few days. Referee Silviu Petrescu clearly made the wrong decision and it cost the Crew at the end of the second half as they conceded in the 89th minute.
MATCH TO FORGET
Cedrick Mabwati appeared to be active with his runs on the wing in the first half, but he failed to contribute much to the Crew attack while the club dominated possession in the first half.