Memorable Night at LDC Field: Columbus Crew 2-1 CF Monterrey

The Columbus Crew are just 90 minutes away from making their first-ever appearance in the CONCACAF Champions Cup Final after beating Rayados 2-1 in the first leg at Columbus.
Apr 24, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez (9) celebrates scoring a goal
Apr 24, 2024; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Crew forward Cucho Hernandez (9) celebrates scoring a goal / Adam Cairns / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jacen Russell-Rowe and Cucho Hernandez each found the net on Wednesday, securing Wilfried Nancy’s team to a 2-1 victory in the first leg semifinal against visiting Liga MX powerhouse Monterrey. Goalkeeper Patrick Schulte delivered five crucial saves, helping the Crew secure a narrow lead heading into next week’s second leg in Mexico.

Buzzing Field

The opening goal came in the 25th minute when Hernandez executed a quick one-touch play with forward Jacen Russell-Rowe, firing a shot from the edge of the box past Andrada to put the Crew ahead 1-0 at halftime.

Monterrey struck back early in the second half, with midfielder Maximiliano Meza slotting home to an opening net, following a cross from Jesus Gallardo in the 58th minute to level the score at 1-1.

The Black & Gold continued to press for an advantage, and it came in the 72nd minute from a wonderful corner routine started by the Diego Rossi. Sean Zawadski headed the ball towards the far post, where Russell-Rowe reacted swiftly to nod it into the ground and into the back of the net, securing his second goal contribution of the night.

Rayados’ goalkeeper, Esteban Andrada, denied the Crew twice more, thwarting Hernandez's long-range effort and blocking Yaw Yeboah's shot. Schulte emerged as the hero late in the game, making a crucial save against midfielder Sergio Canales to preserve the Crew's lead and secure the early advantage heading into the second leg.

Looking ahead

After facing CF Montreal in MLS action this weekend, where we may see some more rotation, the Crew will focus on the second leg. Estadio BBVA will host the second leg on the first of May, with the winner of Monterrey-Columbus set to face either Club América or Pachuca in the tournament final. If Columbus were to advance, the final would be played in Mexico at either América’s ground, the famous Estadio Azteca, or Pachuca’s Estadio Hidalgo, depending on who advances from that bracket.

In order to participate in the Club World Cup taking place in the United States in the summer of 2025, the Crew would need not only to take down Monterrey on the road but also to defeat either Club América or Pachuca in a one-legged tie at their ground.