CHARLOTTE – The last home match of the season started out as a night to forget for Charlotte FC, but ended up being one of the most memorable. Charlotte came back from a 2 – 0 deficit against the Columbus drawing the match but it just wasn’t enough to keep their playoff chances alive.
Due to match postponement rules, the match started at the 15:57 mark with a drop ball from Kristijan Kahlina who was back in goal after missing the last game with a finger injury. Shortly after play resumed, the first scoring opportunity of the match came to Columbus’s Derrick Etienne who found himself on a breakaway but CLTFC’s Joseph Mora made a crucial tackle that prevented an early goal.
The best chance of the half for Charlotte came in the 28th minute when Mora was once again involved when he put in a superb cross to Ben Bender right in front of goal who missed just wide. However, the lack of continuity in the lineup was noticeable as Charlotte struggled to connect passes and take any control over the match.
The opening goal came off a bizarre sequence of events that ended in Kahlina being caught off his line from a lofted free kick near the midfield by Lucas Zelarayán. It took 10 minutes for the Crew to double their lead into the second half with a cross from Etienne that managed to reach Luis Díaz due to an unfortunate slip from Mora.
Things were looking grim after Crew’s second, but Charlotte weren’t giving up just yet. Just four minutes after conceding the second, the Crown responded with a goal of their own on a header from none other than red-hot Daniel Ríos off a cross from Yordy Reyna.
It was the lift Charlotte needed to continue pressing for the comeback as Columbus spent the half defending attack after attack. After generating great scoring opportunities one after the other they finally managed to score the equalizer in the 94th minute from an Andre Shinyashiki header.
In the end, it was too late as Charlotte FC’s three-match win streak and potential playoff miracle came to an end with the draw against Columbus.
Gave It Their All
Circumstances were difficult for Charlotte coming into this match. In addition to having to play back-to-back intense matches just days in-between each other, the team couldn’t rely on their new signings who have been key during the win streak. Nuno Santos, Nathan Byrne and Adilson Malanda were all unavailable for this match due to roster rules in place by Major League Soccer for postponed matches.
On top of all of that, they went down 2 – 0. Despite everything against CLTFC, what can’t be denied is that the players left everything on the pitch. The team gave it their all not just in this match but at the tail end of the season where they defied expectations and continued to give the fans something to cheer about.
Charlotte still have an opportunity to end the season with a win as they head up north to face the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.