It was a wave of emotions in the first game for former Columbus Crew legend Federico Higuain at Historic Crew Stadium as a head coach of Inter Miami II. His team got off to a bright start, taking a 2-0 lead before the home side came storming back to win 3-2. The Black & Gold got two goals in the final top minutes, capped off by the winner from midfielder Mataeo Bunbury in the 88th minute.
New first-team signing Malte Amundsen earned his first start of any kind for the club, clinging up at left wing back for the Black & Gold reserve team. Amundsen went 72 minutes in his first appearance for his new team after coming over in a trade with New York City FC last week.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair as neither team could get much going early on. But, in the 40th minute, Miami took the lead off the right foot of midfielder Lawson Sunderland. A great tackle center back Keegan Hughes in the penalty box saw the ball drop perfectly to Sunderland, who roofed the ball past Columbus goalkeeper Stanislav Lapkes.
Inter had one more attempt on goal before the half ended, but Lapkes saved to keep the score 1-0 heading into halftime.
Crew 2 came out of the halftime break firing. The Black & Gold had two great chances in the first five minutes of the second half but couldn’t convert. Miami had its own look at goal in the 59th minute, but the effort was saved by Lapkes.
Inter doubled the team’s lead in the 69th minute off forward Cameron Johnson’s left foot. Inter winger Dairon Reyes played a perfectly-timed ball that broke the Columbus backline for the assist.
Not long after, the game turned on its head.
Three minutes after Miami doubled the lead, midfielder Cole Mrowka scored his first goal in style for the club to cut the deficit in half. Midfielder Coleman Gannon rolled the ball across the top of the penalty box for Mrowka, who made no mistake with his effort, curling the ball into the top left corner of the goal with his first touch.
From that point on, it seemed destined that Crew 2 would come from behind. The Black & Gold kept the pressure on the Inter backline, forcing several mistakes.
The equalizer came in the 82nd minute as Crew 2 was able to level the score 2-2.
Mrowka slipped a ball that broke through the Miami defense for Bunbury, who then squared the ball for forward Noah Fuson. After playing some wing back this season, Fuson made no mistake with his chance, slotting the ball past Miami goalkeeper CJ dos Santos for his first goal of the year.
But that was not the end of the action.
After Columbus equalized, Inter had two good opportunities to take the lead back but failed to convert.
In the 88th minute, Bunbury got his goal from a Coleman Gannon corner to give Crew 2 the late lead and the full three points. A beautiful cross found the head of Bunbury, who made no mistake by finding the night.
There were no clear-cut chances following the go-ahead goal, and the Black & Gold were able to see out the rest of the game.
Two of the goalscorers, Mrowka and Bunbury, came off the bench for Columbus. And they made a big impact. Not even a minute after he came on, Mrowka scored his first goal for the club. Bunbury came on at the same time the Mrowka did as part of a four-way substitution.
Credit should go to head coach Laurent Courtois for making these changes and pushing his team to go for the win late.
Crew 2 remains at home for the second of three consecutive home games. The Black & Gold welcome expansion side Huntsville City FC to Historic Crew Stadium for the first-ever meeting between the two sides. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, May 5, and can be watched on Apple TV’s MLS Season Pass on on the MLS NEXT Pro YouTube page.