The Columbus Crew hosted English Premier League team Crystal Palace F.C. in an international friendly at Crew Stadium Wednesday and a game with unlimited substitutions resulted in a 2-2 draw between the American and British sides.
Forward Adam Bedell drew first blood for the Black and Gold on an arching assist by defender Eric Gehrig in the 15th minute, but the opposition was not deterred as Palace’s Glenn Murray equalized with a 36th minute strike.
The final 10 minutes of the first half saw the visiting Eagles engage a tighter defensive stance of contesting for possession, likely inspired to battle after their forward evened the game for them.
“From the start, they sat back a little bit. That’s just the way that they, that’s just their game plan,” Bedell said after the game, speaking to what the Premier League squad did differently from the Major League Soccer defenses the Crew face every week. “A good block of eight, good defending … MLS teams, when the game’s 0-0, you just play. You don’t see that, that block of eight very often so I think that was the big difference.”
Another Crystal Palace goal by substitute midfielder Jake Gray in the 70th minute of play occurred following a scuffle in the box, during which Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson pled his case for having been interfered with on the play. The goal stood to give the guests the 2-1 lead after they had been threatening in transition for the majority of the evening.
One of the Crew’s three defensive halftime substitutions saw a homegrown player from Bexley, Ohio, in Ross Friedman get his first career action in a Black and Gold kit when he came in for fellow defender Chad Barson.
Friedman, 22, had been playing for the USL-PRO affiliate Dayton Dutch Lions but got the call to suit up as a Crew reserve against a top-flight international team.
“I think going out at Dayton and trying to do the little things right — not slacking in any way — you know, prepares me for situations like this,” Friedman said. “This opportunity proves to show we can get called at any point. Situations happen and you’ve got to be ready. So I felt happy with my preparation and I’m ready to build off of it.”
Columbus notched an 80th minute goal, however, to tie the game once more.
Crew center midfielder Agustin Viana delivered a lofting assist from 35 yards away and his attacking counterpart, Daniel Paladini, fought to contact the ball in midair for the equalizing header. The tie game endured through two minutes of second-half stoppage time.
“Adam (Bedell) was fantastic. He had a great header and Danny (Paladini) made a nice run trying to get midfielders running into the box. I was pleased over all,” Crew coach Gregg Berhalter said.
Berhalter, who played as a defender for Crystal Palace from 2001-02, added that “the defending could have been a bit better.”
The game marked the first of three stops on Crystal Palace’s American tour before the Premier League season kicks off in August.
The Crew are slated to resume MLS play when they travel to Foxboro, Mass., to take on the New England Revolution in a crucial Eastern Conference matchup Saturday.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.