Columbus Crew returns to equalize New England at new stadium opening

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Columbus until my death, they said, walking down Nationwide Boulevard to the inaugural game at Lower.com Field, the Crew’s new home west of the Arena district.

A new building, a new environment, a new football experience in the Ohio capital awaited the more than 20,000 fans who had almost no team less than three years ago.

Nordecke’s extended fan section had all 3,400 seats occupied from the pitch to the roof. The most loyal fans who made it possible to unveil a new sports cathedral on Saturday thanks to the Save The Crew movement showed the city what football can be like in Columbus.

The comeback story that led to a new owner and a new stadium almost played out on the pitch in an almost incredible way, but ended in a 2-2 draw between the Crew and the New England Revolution. .

Led 2-1 in the 69th minute, substitute Liam Fraser kicked a long ball towards forward Gyasi Zardes, who scored in the 39th minute to get the team back in the game. As defenseman Andrew Farrell glanced at Zardes running, the ball hit Farrell’s shoulder and returned to goal.

Goalkeeper Matt Turner, Farrell and Zardes were in a running race as the ball slowly rolled towards the goal line past the Nordecke. Joist for position, Turner, Farrell and Zardes all collided almost at the same time the ball crossed the goal line for the equalizer against his side.

This series of events seemed almost mundane compared to the last breath of downtime. In the center of the box, Alex Matan fired a shot in the direction of the goal which was blocked by a defender of the Revolution. The ball directly hit Afful whose strike was also blocked within 5 meters of the goal.

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe had the final effort, which just crossed the bar in a Nordecke section that was at its peak.

Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes (11) scores a goal against New England Revolution defenseman Andrew Farrell (2) during the first half of their MLS game at Lower.com Field in Columbus, Ohio on 3 July 2021.

It didn’t take long for the energy in the Crew’s new palace to be amplified. In the first 122 seconds, winger Luis Diaz and right-back Harrison Afful had chances to score from the top of the box which they shot just off the right post.

The Crew came out on top in the opening 10 minutes with four shots within 20 yards just in front of goal, but the Revolution only needed a chance to gain the advantage.

On the Revs’ first possession in the third forward, left-back DeJuan Jones beat Afful to the baseline and crossed to the back post. Team left-back Milton Valenzuela lost sight of his man, giving Tajon Buchanon a wide header for the very first goal scored at Lower.com Field in the 13th minute.

With the Crew still keeping most of the possession – 68% in the first half – the Revolution found their reliable striker Gustavo Bou for a 30th-minute goal on a Buchanon cross that stunned those who wanted to name the new one. stadium with a victory.

in the first half of the inaugural game at Lower.com Field in Columbus on Saturday, July 3, 2021.

Needing a lift, Afful handed the ball to Zardes at the top of the box. The forward made a quick movement to his left and fired an inside shot from the right post just past Turner to reduce the deficit to one before half-time.

The sound of a jackhammer in celebration of the supporters’ new goal faded as supporters felt elated but demanded more.

Farrell’s own home goal tied the team with the best team in the Eastern Conference, but some last-minute defensive exploits from the Revolution kept Lower.com Field’s opener from being l perfect afternoon to start a new chapter in the club’s history.

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