Federico Higuain’s debut and Eddie Gaven’s return to form weren’t enough for the Columbus Crew on Wednesday night. After going down early, the Crew fought back to take the lead before finally succumbing to the Houston Dynamo’s amazing home-field advantage.
Columbus lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The back four remained the same from the previous game, as did the two defensive midfielder positions. Milovan Mirosevic didn’t make the game-day roster after picking up an ankle injury, so Justin Meram took his spot in the starting XI on the right wing as Eddie Gaven slid in the center. The Dynamo started in a 4-3-3.
While Crew midfielder Dilly Duka got behind Houston’s defense twice within the first minute, it was the Dynamo who had the first dangerous chance of the game. Boniek Garcia was played though on goal past Columbus’ defense a Will Bruin long ball. Nevertheless, Garcia’s lunge at the ball resulted in a harmless goal kick.
Five minutes later, the Dynamo took the lead. Garcia dribbled toward the goal on the right side of the field and passed to an open Brad Davis near the top of the box. Davis took a touch and unleashed a shot with his preferred left foot. The ball bounced up perfectly for Davis, and he drilled the ball into the top corner of the net. Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum didn’t have much of a chance to save due to the pace on the shot.
The Crew equalized in the 33rd minute after some hard work by Eddie Gaven and Dilly Duka. Gaven held the ball near midfield, turned, and played Duka a nice pass down the right side of the field. Duka dribbled toward goal and played the ball back to an onrushing Cole Grossman. Grossman hit a shot first time with both pace and accuracy, placing it straight into the top right corner of the goal.
Federico Higuain, Columbus’ recent Designated Player signing, came on at the half for Justin Meram, making his Crew debut. It didn’t take long for Higuain to have an immediate impact. In the 58th minute, Higuain played a nice give-and-go with Jairo Arrieta before looping a pass to a streaking Gaven. Gaven, now behind the defense, dribbled toward goal and passed the ball with his left foot past Dynamo goalie Tally Hall and into the net.
Columbus were minutes away from becoming the first MLS team to win in BBVA Compass Stadium, but two major gaffes allowed Houston to equalize. After a complete mishit by Chad Marshall in an attempt to clear the ball, it fell to Adam Moffat at the top of the box. Moffat took one touch before rocketing a left-footed shot toward goal. The ball was hit directly at Gruenebaum, and he simply raised his hands above his head to save. However, there was so much pace on the ball that it slipped through Gruenebaum’s fingertips and across the goal line. It was one of Gruenebaum’s very few errors this season, and it resulted in the Crew tying the Dynamo, 2-2.