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Union’s scoreless tie in Columbus marred by controversial overturned goal

The Union rebounded from the U.S. Open Cup final loss with a scoreless tie in Columbus. It could have been a win had a first-half goal not been taken away.

Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (left) blocks the shot of Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zerdes during the first half of the Union's tie on Saturday.
Union goalkeeper Andre Blake (left) blocks the shot of Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zerdes during the first half of the Union's tie on Saturday.Read moreTYLER SCHANK / TNS

The Union rebounded from the bad taste left by losing the U.S. Open Cup final with a creditable scoreless tie in Columbus on Saturday.

It could have been a win, though, had a first-half goal not been taken away by a controversial video review.

In the 36th minute, the Union (14-12-5, 47 points) appeared to score when Cory Burke won a duel with Lalas Abubakar and forced Jonathan Mensah to put the ball in his own net. But referee Drew Fischer overturned the goal after a lengthy review process (and after a lot of Crew players got in his face to complain), judging that Burke fouled Abubakar in the tussle.

Replays showed that both players had handfuls of each other, but the booth's verdict was the only one that mattered.

Fischer told a pool reporter after the game that the goal "was negated because Cory Burke pushed his opponent. … The VAR [replay booth] determined that there was a clear pushing foul which led to the opponent falling to the ground and Cory Burke gaining possession of the ball."

Union manager Jim Curtin made his opinion clear in a halftime interview on the Union's TV broadcast, saying "it looked like two guys fighting for the ball."

The Union had a few chances to score in the second half, but none of their shots were on target. Columbus (13-9-9, 48 points) nearly snatched the win in the 90th minute, but Blake made a full-stretch diving save of a blast from Harrison Afful on the right side of the 18-yard box.

Now, after five games in 12 days, the Union finally have some time to rest. The burden of the heavy scheduled showed in moves that Curtin made with the starting lineup. There were many changes from the group that started Wednesday's U.S. Open Cup final.

Somewhat surprisingly, Auston Trusty did start, after playing every minute of the past four games. Jack Elliott's suspension due to yellow card accumulation may have been a factor.

Borek Dockal was rested until the 82nd minute, with Alejandro Bedoya moved forward into an attacking midfield role. Left back Ray Gaddis got the night off entirely, and replacement Fabinho did quite well.

The moves were likely necessary to avoid fatigue. But with Ilsinho injured and Anthony Fontana out of favor, Curtin was also gambling that he could get away without much creativity in the attack.

One could say the gamble paid off, but not as much as it could have — or perhaps should have. The Union needed to win to overtake Columbus in the standings and get the inside track toward hosting a first-round playoff game. The draw kept the teams within a point of each other, but the Union have the harder schedule in the season's final weeks.