After finding themselves down to nine players, the Columbus Crew found a way to hold off the upset bid from their NASL foe, the Indy Eleven, with a converted penalty late in extra time.
After an early goal by the Crew’s Bernardo Anor in the 4th minute, the hosts were in good shape until the 34th minute when Adam Bedell was sent off for a bad tackle. Indy wouldn’t level the match until the 62nd minute, as the match ended up going to overtime. In the extra frame, Columbus’ Daniel Paladini was shown the team’s second red card. However, the MLS side caught a break as their NASL opponents were called for a foul in the box and Jairo Arrieta put the Crew in front to stay to give them their first win over a second-tiered club since 2010.
Before a crowd of 1,913 at the University of Akron’s First Energy Stadium, the match started out with the Crew exploiting gaps in the Eleven defense and the Crew struck early. In the 4th minute, Ben Speas put a corner kick over the box and Anor was there to head the ball past Indy keeper Kristian Nicht.
Following the gaffe, the Eleven’s backline tightened up, particularly Fejiro Okiomah, who made a number of defensive clearances over the next ten minutes. The Crew’s continued pressure broke through again as Adam Bedell headed down a cross from Hector Jimenez in the 15th minute after a scramble in front of the Indy goal but had it called back due to offsides. Though the Crew dominated possession through the first half, Indy had a number of solid scoring chances, including a header by Chris Estridge in the 20th minute that saw Crew keeper Steve Clark dive and knock the ball away as it was headed to the lower left corner.
The dynamic of the first half changed in the 32nd minute, when Bedell went in on a dangerous challenge to Indy’s Estridge. Initially, the referee issued Bedell a caution but after conversing with the fourth official, decided to rescind the yellow card and give a red instead. The referee clarified that the yellow was rescinded due to Bedell’s challenge being particularly high, putting the targeted player at serious risk. The Crew were now down to 10 men with nearly two-thirds of the game still to play.
Momentum swung Indy’s way in the second. Don Smart came on for Mendes to start the half and provided an instant spark to the Eleven attack. Minutes into the half, Smart sent a shot through the Crew goal box that nearly sent Clark tumbling in order to get into position and later set up Blake Smith for the equalizer in the 62nd minute, a pass to the top of box that Smith took, evading a defender before slotting it past the keeper. Minutes later, Nicht made a huge save for the Eleven as Ethan Finlay streaked around his defender and put a shot to the lower right side that Nicht kicked away.
Being up a man, Indy dominated possession through most of the second half and forced the Crew backline to defend a number of chances. Indy’s Ben Spencer nearly had the go-ahead goal in the 71st minute before being called back due to offsides as the match stayed tied after regulation time.
In the first extra time, possession balanced out with the teams trading chances but neither scored. Into the second period, Paladini’s flagrant elbow in the 110th minute earned the Crew midfielder a straight red, putting Columbus down two players late in the match. Perhaps fatigue caught up with the Eleven, but the Crew didn’t appear to be rattled by the latest infraction, defending aggressively and tying up possession.
In the 113th minute, Columbus worked the ball to the Indy end, where it ended up at the feet of Finlay, who attempted a run from the left side of the box. His defender Brad Ring made the unfortunate mistake of taking Finlay down in the area, with a penalty awarded to the Crew as extra time dwindled away. Arrieta scored on the PK and put Columbus up for good.
Columbus now awaits the winner of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds/Chicago Fire match to see where they’ll be playing in next week’s Fifth Round matchups.
REPLAY: INDY ELEVEN AT COLUMBUS CREW