The Columbus Crew looked unstoppable in the group stage of the MLS is Back Tournament, but they ran into another undefeated team on Tuesday and picked a bad time to deliver their worst performance of the season.
Minnesota United converted all five of its penalty kicks after holding the Crew to a 1-1 draw in regulation, and Tyler Miller’s save of Chris Cadden’s penalty attempt was the difference as the Loons secured a spot in the MLS is Back Tournament quarterfinals.
Chase Gasper converted the winning penalty for the Loons, who move on to face the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday in Orlando.
The Crew entered the match as the favorites after finishing group play with a perfect 3-0 record, having posted three consecutive shutouts along the way, but Minnesota United struck first on Tuesday, with Robin Lod scoring in the 18th minute, volleying home a headed Jose Aja pass after the Crew failed to clear away a Loons corner kick.
The early goal allowed Minnesota to control the game and settled into a defensive shape that made things difficult for a Crew attack that failed to find the kind of rhythm that helped Columbus score seven goals in the group stage.
The Crew received a reprieve in the 78th minute when Aja was called for a foul in the penalty area on Derrick Etienne Jr. Gyasi Zardes saw his penalty attempt saved by Tyler Miller, but the U.S. Men’s National Team striker pounced on the rebound and slotted home the equalizer.
Caleb Porter’s side failed to find a winner in regulation, setting up a penalty shootout that saw the Loons convert all five attempts.
Man of the Match
Tyler Miller. The Loons goalkeeper made five saves in regulation, and even stopped the Zardes regulation penalty with an outstanding save, only to have Zardes convert the rebound. Miller made the only save of the shootout to secure the victory.
Moment of the Match
Miller’s save on Chris Cadden’s shootout penalty helped secure the victory for the Loons.
Match to Forget
Darlington Nagbe was an absolute force in the group stage, but didn’t play at that level against Minnesota United, and his 75th minute exit from the match suggests he may have been forced out by an injury.