COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Crew will not continue in the newly-expanded Leagues Cup after a Friday night loss to Minnesota United at home in the round of 32.
The Black & Gold entered the knockout phase after two victories in the group stage against St. Louis CITY SC and Club America, giving them home-field advantage at Lower.com Field against Minnesota in what turned out to be one of the best games of the tournament.
Columbus conceded first as the Loons’ top scorer Bongokuhle Hlongwane finished past Evan Bush in the 17th minute. Just before halftime, the Crew equalized after a Minnesota giveaway led to a simple finish from Malte Amundsen.
The goals kept coming with Romanian attacker Alexandru Matan smashing one from more than 20 yards out to give Columbus a 2-1 lead in the 51st minute. Three minutes later, Hlongwane scored his sixth goal of the tournament to tie it back up at 2-2.
Columbus fans thought the victory was ensured after a Christian Ramirez goal in the 83rd minute but Minnesota equalized again after a Crew giveaway led to a goal from Hassani Dotson in the 90th minute, sending the match to a penalty shootout.
Each team converted its first three penalties before Crew midfielder Kevin Molino had his penalty saved by Dayne St. Clair. Both teams then struggled to convert with three consecutive penalties hitting or going over the crossbar, including a potential game winner for the Loons from Hlongwane.
In sudden death, Amundsen had his penalty saved by St. Clair giving Minnesota match point. Miguel Tapias converted to send Minnesota to the round of 16 and eliminate the Crew.
For Columbus, they will now have more than two weeks off before returning to MLS regular season action on Aug. 20 against FC Cincinnati in the Hell is Real derby. Cincinnati, currently with the best record in MLS, was also eliminated from the Leagues Cup Friday night in a penalty shootout against Nashville SC.
Leagues Cup Round of 16 schedule
FC Dallas vs. Inter Miami (Sunday – 9:30 p.m.)
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls (Monday – 7:30 p.m.)
Queretaro vs. New England Revolution (Monday – 8 p.m.)
Charlotte FC vs. Houston Dynamo (Monday – 10 p.m.)
Club America vs. Nashville SC (Tuesday – 8 p.m.)
Toluca vs. Minnesota United (Tuesday – 8:30 p.m.)
Tigres vs. Monterrey (Tuesday – 10 p.m.)
Los Angeles FC vs. Real Salt Lake (Tuesday – 10:30 p.m.)