Columbus Crew score win, advance to CONCACAF semifinals by beating Tigres on penalty kicks

To secure the team’s first CONCACAF Champions Cup semifinal berth, the Crew needed to make history: No MLS team had ever beaten a La Liga MX team after not winning the home leg of the Champions Cup.

But to make history, the Crew needed penalty kicks.

Tied at 1-1 and with two goals in the aggregate and a scoreless extra-time period that included an incredible save by Tigres goalkeeper Felipe Rodriguez to prevent an own goal, the Crew hit four of five penalty kicks to secure the victory in Monterrey, Mexico.

After makes by Diego Rossi, Jacen Russell-Rowe and Alex Matan, and a miss from Cucho Hernandez, Max Arfsten secured the victory with his shot. Crew goalkeeper Patrick Schulte saved each of Tigres’ first two penalty tries, but Tigres’ players converted on their final three attempts.

Related Columbus Crew article: Columbus Crew without Aidan Morris for Champions Cup match vs Tigres

Heading into Tuesday’s win, coach Wilfried Nancy wanted the Crew to “expect the expected,” to know that the atmosphere would be hostile, but encouraged his team “to play our football.”

“We played with a personality,” Nancy said.

The Crew will face the winner of CF Monterrey and Inter Miami CF in the Champions Cup semifinal between April 23-May 2. The specific date and time for the semifinal match has not been announced.

Disaster struck for the Columbus Crew early

Columbus’ victory came despite an early setback. As the Crew defense tried to establish possession, Schulte lost possession on a back pass from Steven Moreira. Andre Pierre Gignac took advantage of the miscue and tucked the ball into the back of the net for a score in the third minute.

Schulte finished with six saves on seven shots-on-target.

The Crew offense found life 14 minutes into the second half. Although he has played in seven MLS games this season without a goal, Rossi scored for the second time in Champions Cup play off a pass. Hernandez and Mo Farsi set up the goal.

Diego Rossi nets crucial goal

Rossi’s score tied a game in which Tigres had six first-half offside penalties, including one off an errant pass by Derrick Jones that was stolen and set up for Nicolas Ibanez minutes after the team’s first goal. Each of Tigres’ four first-half shots were on goal, while the Crew mustered one on target in five shots.

Tigres finished with 13 shots, seven of which were on target.

Nancy said he was proud of the way his team remained compact defensively and remained connected from Hernandez as the “first defender” and Schulte as the “first attacker.”

“It’s been really good defensively,” Nancy said. “And that is because they were detailed about what we want to do.”

Early in the second half, the Crew’s Yaw Yeboah fought for a scoring chance, but was pushed by Javier Aquino Carmona in the box. Multiple Crew players reacted as though Yeboah had drawn a penalty, but the game continued without a card or even a foul.

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After missing the past three matches with a groin injury, Crew defender Rudy Camacho started Tuesday. Camahco was substituted out for Malte Amundsen in the 75th minute.

Alex Matan (thigh) also returned to the Crew for his first action since March 6. Matan entered for Yeboah at the start of extra time.

Crew midfielder Aidan Morris was unavailable Tuesday after receiving a red card in the first meeting against Tigres April 2.

Nancy said Tuesday was a showcase of what the Crew can do at their best.

“Knowing that this is difficult, knowing that the way you want to play, this is difficult,” Nancy said. “But again, personality, when this is difficult what we do, we run. And we play for our teammates. We don’t play with them. We play for them. And for me, this is the big difference.”

The Crew will return to MLS play Saturday on the road against Real Salt Lake. Kickoff is scheduled for 9:30 p.m.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Crew advance to CONCACAF semifinals with PK win vs. Tigres

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