Before the game, Crew captain and center back Chad Marshall was scratched from the starting lineup. During Friday’s practice, he re-aggravated an old head injury and was suffering from concussion-like symptoms. Eric Gehrig started in his place next to Josh Williams. Defensive midfielder Danny O’Rourke was the captain for the night.
The other starters for Columbus remained the same from their previous game, except for Emilio Renteria and Ethan Finlay at forward. They replaced the newly injured duo of Olman Vargas and Aaron Schoenfeld.
There was a very urban flow for the entire duration of the game. Possession in midfield was almost nonexistent, as the teams were either constantly attacking or defending. Both teams had some good chances to score, but goal-line clearances and good saves left the game without any goals.
In the 20th minute, left-midfielder Rodney Wallace’s long-distance shot was heading toward the side netting, only to be tipped just wide by a diving Andy Gruenebaum.
Six minutes later, Crew left back Nemanja Vukovic sent in a cross. The loose ball fell in the box to Milovan Mirosevic, who tried to stab the ball into the goal. The ball hit a Portland defender’s knee, went up in the air, and was then headed off the line and out of bounds by Jack Jewsbury.
The resulting corner kick was cleared out by Portland for another corner. This time, Mirosevic found defender Josh Williams at the far post. Williams controlled the ball, and his low shot beat Timbers goalie Troy Perkins only to be cleared off the line by Diego Chara.
After the scoreless first half, Portland started the second much better than the Crew. A Kris Boyd free kick in the 58th minute was just wide of reaching the top-right corner. Boyd almost scored again in the 68th minute, but his header was just wide.
The Crew’s best chance to score came in the 65th minute. Mirosevic found Josh Williams again on a cross. Williams’ header was tipped over the bar at the last second by Perkins. Coach Robert Warzycha’s final effort to score and take home three points included subbing both Renteria and Finlay off and putting two new forwards in: Justin Meram and Bernardo Anor. However, neither team was able to find the back of the net, and they both left Jeld-Wen Field with only a single point.
While the game was a rather chippy affair, some players stood out for Columbus for playing well. Goalie Andy Gruenebuam recorded his third shutout of the season. He was credited with six saves on the night. Defender Josh Williams was once again the Crew’s most dangerous threat on offense. He also had a stellar performance on the defensive end. Forward Ethan Finlay’s speed caused concern for Portland’s defense in the first half, but he disappeared for most of the second.
Columbus returns home next weekend to face off against FC Dallas. Portland’s next game isn’t until May 15th, when they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo in the new BBVA Compass Stadium.