The Columbus Crew made a short trip to Detroit, Michigan for the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. On a cold, windy evening at Keyworth Stadium, Columbus played its first Open Cup match in two years. The Black & Gold opponent was Detroit City FC of the USL Championship, the second division of American football. Playing with a range of players lower in the senior team depth chart, home side Detroit City upset Columbus, winning 2-1.
After some initial problems in the passage of the crew, the Black & Gold put in place some first movements in attack. Right off the bat, Detroit looked like a team that watched Columbus’ last three games, sitting and waiting for counterattacking opportunities.
To their credit, it was nearly as effective. Detroit sent several shots towards the net, but accuracy failed on the home side. The home side’s first came in the fifth minute. Luckily for the crew, it was midfielder Aidan Morris who jumped in to stop the chance and go on the counter.
In the sixth minute, winger Erik Hurtado passed at the top of the penalty area to Morris, who was tackled from behind in the box. Columbus won the penalty, which striker Gyasi Zardes sent into the bottom left corner of the net, giving the Crew a 1-0 lead.
Apart from the penalty and a shot from Morris in the 22n/a minute, Detroit had the best chance. The home side capitalized on poor passes from Black & Gold but never challenged goalkeeper Evan Bush apart from catching the occasional bouncing ball in the 18-yard box.
Columbus entered halftime with a goal with more work to do in the second half.
From the second half, the visitors had the opportunity to double the lead. Zardes and crew took a break, with the striker passing goalkeeper Nate Steinwascher. It appeared that Steinwascher knocked Zardes down in the penalty area after Zardes passed, but the referee didn’t call anything. Without VAR, the match remained 1-0.
In the 54and minute, a trend continued for the Crew when defending from a set piece. While Detroit didn’t score, Williams clearing the ball from the line, Columbus narrowly held the lead.
The Black & Gold had chances, but it felt like a replay of past games where the Crew got into areas but couldn’t break through the defense.
Williams’ work throughout the match was undone in the 84and minute. The centre-back took out a Detroit striker in the penalty area which earned Detroit City a penalty. Bush picked correctly and dived for the shot, but he hit the post and rolled into the net, setting the home team up for good.
Columbus brought in starters Miguel Berry, Yaw Yeboah and Derrick Etienne Jr., but it wasn’t enough. The Crew now return home to central Ohio after being knocked out of the Open Cup and adding a fourth straight loss to their 2022 campaign.
Attacking woes and set pieces
The Black & Gold goal in the first six minutes of the match was their first since equalizing extra time against the New York Red Bulls on March 20. looking dangerous in the penalty area again.
Also, the problems on set pieces so far have been on defense. This match showed that they are also a problem in attack. Without midfielder Lucas Zelarayán, the set pieces all went into penalty areas where no Crew player was stationed. The lack of creativity in goal scoring is something to watch out for on future set pieces going forward.
Aidan Morris Exceptional Evening
Difficulty scoring and another tough loss, a bright spot in this game was Aidan Morris. After missing all of last season and playing three games this year, the midfielder had a great night in attack and defence. His press was effective against the Detroit midfielder and he also connected passes up and down the field.
Columbus’ lead, and better goal chances otherwise, had Morris’ stamp all over them. It’s a performance that shows what he can bring to this Crew team in 2022 and beyond.
The Crew return this weekend to take on Sporting Kansas City on the road, a team that was not part of the Open Cup midweek festivities. Saturday’s game starts at 8:30 p.m. ET at Children’s Mercy Park against a 12-seat Sporting sideand place in the Western Conference with eight points from eight games.