the second goalkeeper in as many games making his first MLS start while playing for the Crew, who have four goalkeepers on the shelf with injuries -- the match remained scoreless for 75 minutes. Then Columbus won a free kick nearly straight out from goal which Jacob Thomas blasted over the dive of FCD 'keeper Dario Sala, only for it to come back off the face of the crossbar. But Leonard Bisaku was quickest to the rebound and headed it into the unguarded goal for his first MLS goal.
Then in the 89th minute Ritchie Kotschau doubled the Crew lead with a remarkable goal. Gathering a seemingly harmless pass near midfield, he scampered past four FC Dallas defenders to the heart the penalty area where he drove a high shot over Sala.
Carlos Ruiz pulled back a goal for the Hoops in the first minute of stoppage time, setting an FC Dallas club record in the process, scoring in his sixth consecutive contest. It was a classic Ruiz goal, receiving the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the box, spinning around his defender and hitting the lower left-hand corner of Palmer's net, but his seventh goal on the campaign wasn't enough to pull the Hoops all the way back.
Crew head coach Sigi Schmid made three changes to the team that lost 5-1 to D.C. United at midweek. Noah Palmer came into goal in place of Dan Popik and made his MLS debut. Jacob Thomas came into the midfield in place of Sebastian Rozental, and Marcos Gonzalez returned to the back four, in place of Ezra Hendrickson.
Here's Schmid's team (4-4-2): Noah Palmer - Chris Leitch, Marcos Gonzalez, Chad Marshall, Ritchie Kotschau - Jacob Thomas, Ned Grabavoy (Leonard Bisaku 71), Jose Retiz, Eddie Gaven - Jason Garey, Joseph Ngwenya (Kei Kamara 88). [Substitutes Not Used: Ezra Hendrickson, Brandon Moss, Dan Popik, Sebastian Rozental, Tim Ward]
"Getting our rear ends kicked on Wednesday (was the difference)," Schmid said. "We talked about it last night and we said it's just about character and leadership and we have to show which is the team - the team that was 3-1-2 in the last six games or the team that got shellacked in D.C. I think they went out there today and they answered the question."
While still in the throes of a severe injury crisis, the Crew were able to get Jacob Thomas back into the lineup, and Schmid said it made a difference.
"It helps that this was the first game we've been able to get Jacob (Thomas), Joseph (Ngwenya), (Eddie) Gaven and (Jason) Garey together and I thought in the first half they were inches away from breaking the game open," he said. "I think when that group can get four or five games together they're going to be able to score goals."
Columbus 'keeper Noah Palmer was solid in his MLS debut, making five stops in the winning effort. "I'm not going to say I was in the zone," Palmer said. "If I was in the zone, we wouldn't have given up that goal. I was focused. I knew that we couldn't give up a goal at that point. They were playing pretty hard and coming at us strong. If we had given up a goal there, it could have been a different game."
Said Schmid: "I thought Noah came up with some big saves. My hat's off to Noah. He came up big on a couple of them and was pretty steady back there."
There was also significant improvement in the Crew back four, after being shredded in Washington. "We played well as a team defensively," Crew defender Ritchie Kotschau said. "We were able to keep the ball up top. There was a lot more possession for us. We weren't giving balls up. Our goalkeeper came up big for us when he needed to and that was the difference in the game."
For Kotschau, it was his 10th career goal - but just his second since the 2000 season. His last competitive goal also came at Pizza Hut Park - for the Colorado Rapids in last year's Western Conference Semifinals against FC Dallas.
"That was a great goal. The last time he scored was here in the playoffs so he must like the field," Schmid said. "It was a tremendous run. It's one of those things you don't expect defenders to keep going so maybe their defense relaxes. It was also a point in the game when they are a little bit open and one of the things we talked about - that they were good up front but in the back there was still a weakness. They're a team that's allowed 13 goals."
KANSAS CITY WIZARDS
The Kansas City Wizards saw their winless streak extend to five games, but put an end to a three-game losing skein, coming back to claim a 1-1 draw with the New York Red Bulls last Saturday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The Wizards are now tied for second in the Eastern Conference with the Crew, each on 14 points from 10 matches, 10 points behind the league's best overall, D.C. United.
The Wizards came into the match having scored one goal, and only one, in each of their last seven games. The Red Bulls came into the game with just one win -- but five draws -- in their eight games on the year.
Both trends continued at Arrowhead Stadium, as the teams played to a 1-1 draw. Chris Henderson gave the Red Bulls a 30th-minute lead from a spectacularly finished free kick. Mark Lisi swung the ball outside the left side of the goal, where Steve Jolley dove to head it back across the goal. Henderson managed to pull his body back around and put the ball into the goal.
But the Wizards pulled even almost on the hour mark. Scott Sealy ran to claim a ball played into the corner of the New York penalty area, and as Jeff Parke retreated to track him down, he was adjudged to have tripped up the K.C. striker by referee Tim Weyland. Jose Burciaga Jr. converted from the spot to complete the draw.
Wizards boss Bob Gansler made one change to the team that lost 3-1 to D.C. United the weekend before. Jack Jewsbury returned to the first team in a midfield role, with Ryan Pore returning to the substitutes' bench.
Here's Gansler's team (4-1-3-2): Bo Oshoniyi - Matt Groenwald (Lance Watson 46), Nick Garcia, Shavar Thomas, Jose Burciaga Jr. - Kerry Zavagnin - Jack Jewsbury, Sasha Victorine, Alex Zotinca (Yura Movsisyan 78) - Scott Sealy (Ryan Pore 67), Davy Arnaud. [Substitutes Not Used: Will Hesmer, Will John, Ryan Raybould, Tyson Wahl]
"I was satisfied with the second half and with the way we addressed the game, the tempo with which we played, and the commitment with which we played," Gansler said. "The first half we played into New York's hands by playing slowly, and having things develop too methodically. Then New York goes long and you have 80 yards to go and you have to put too many passes together."
The Wizards have now scored just a single goal in eight consecutive games. The eight games have resulted in two wins, two ties, and four losses, and they apparently need the offensive firepower World Cuppers Josh Wolff and Eddie Johnson bring to the forward position. "It's just a matter of giving the young guys an opportunity," Gansler said.
"We need to play two halves like the second one and we will be OK.," Gansler said. "I trust it is a sign of better things to come but we will have to wait till next Saturday to see it." Said midfielder Kerry Zavagnin to the Kansas City Star: "Considering the first half we had tonight, any points whatsoever were a positive. Our first half could have been our worst half of the season.
Another change at the half was bringing on Lance Watson for Matt Groenwald at right back, and it helped the Wizards attack.
"Lance is even more so of a wide midfielder than Matt [Groenwald] is really, we just pushed him back another 10 yards and he held his own, whether he was playing against [Chris] Henderson or their two tall trees," Gansler said. "He is a strong individual and has good balance but what he gave us was more confidence going forward so we turned Henderson into more of a defender. I have always said Lance is going to start in this league and he has been patient and the time has come for him to start."
Midfielder Alex Zotinca and forward Scott Sealy started in place of Johnson and Wolff, as Gansler returned to a 4-4-2 system after going much of the season with three attackers. Both Sealy and Zotinca were substituted for during the match. Ryan Pore replaced Sealy, while Yura Mousisyan was a late substitution for veteran Zotinca.
"Pore gave us some good moments, a couple of good plays. Yura is a little out of control sometimes," Gansler said.
While the Wizards put an end to their three-game losing streak, it didn't necessarily come as a relief. "Frustration is definitely the key word. Even though we tied, it almost feels like a loss," defender Nick Garcia said. "So for us it's still disappointing. We wanted and needed three points. I guess we need to take our point here with the tie and move on. We have more games to concentrate on."