For the Crew, they snapped a franchise worst three-game losing streak in the tournament that dated back to the 2010 US Open Cup Final. After losing to the Sounders that year, they were the victims of consecutive one-and-done upsets to the Richmond Kickers in 2011 and the Lions last year. All three losses were by the score of 2-1. This year, they flipped the score around.
The Crew came out with an aggressive attack and kept play in Dayton’s end for much of the first ten minutes. The MLS side kept the Dutch Lion defense on their heels with heavy passing as they dominated possession. Momentum stayed in the Crew’s favor as Dutch Lions defender Brock Granger earned a straight red card in the 14th minute for a two-footed tackle just outside the penalty area on Gaven. The infraction forced the now short-handed Lions to move Shintaro Harada from the midfield back to defense.
Neither side made any roster changes as the second half started, and Columbus would finally break through in the 52’ as Gaven knocked down a pass from Higuain and put it past the Dayton keeper from a tight angle.
After taking the lead, Columbus seemed to fall back a bit, a similar situation from last year’s game and right on cue, Dayton picked up their offense.
Following a back and forth exchange of possession, Dayton would finally break through in the 78th minute as Shane Smith took an assist from Klaasse and put the equalizer past the Crew’s Matt Lampson. Dayton nearly took the lead in the 82nd minute as Brandon Swartzendruber got a shot past Lampson only to see Crew defender Eric Gehrig clear the loose ball off the goalline.
Despite the late surge by Dayton, the Crew would answer and regain the lead in the 84th minute on a goal by Justin Meram, sending a ball from outside the penalty area past the keeper Williams. Gaven got the assist on Meram’s goal and would end up going down minutes later with an injury in the 88th minute. If the injury turns out to be something serious, it could be a big blow to Columbus as Gaven, despite his scoring struggles this year, has remained a veteran leader for the club.
Through the rest of the match, including five minutes of stoppage time, the Crew were content to just hold possession and burn out the clock. The Columbus Crew would survive the late flurry to avenge last year’s defeat and advance in the Open Cup for the first time since 2010.