Gap grows closer on conference leaders

and in the process, moved to within six points of the second-place Wizards.

The Wizards would have been top of the West had they won, after the Los Angeles Galaxy and Columbus Crew played to a dour scoreless draw at The Home Depot Center on Saturday night. But the Crew still gained ground in the East, as a stunning goal in stoppage time gave the Dallas Burn a 1-0 victory against the East-leading MetroStars on Sunday night at the Meadowlands.

Also keeping pace in the East were D.C. United and the New England Revolution, where a late goal from the visitors led to a 2-2 draw in Washington. The Colorado Rapids also kept pace in the West, claiming a 3-0 victory at Soldier Field against the Chicago Fire.

At Arrowhead Stadium, Landon Donovan put on a masterclass display, scoring twice to send the Wizards to a frustrating second consecutive defeat, and for the third time keeping Bob Gansler's club from taking over the Western Conference leadership.

Donovan sent home a glancing near-post header of a Brian Mullan cross to give the Earthquakes a 27th-minute lead, then doubled it just before the hour in fine fashion, running onto a through ball from Brian Ching and beating a couple of defenders on the run before slotting home past Tony Meola (59).

The Wizards saw Igor Simutenkov -- making his first start of the season -- rattle the woodwork on two occasions, and then after the match lost influential midfielder Chris Klein for the remainder of the campaign with a knee injury suffered late in the match.

At Giants Stadium, the Eastern Conference leaders lost their chance to take over the lead in the MLS overall table when Toni Nhleko gave the Burn a surprise late victory in second-half added time against the MetroStars, ending the home side's three-game winning streak.

A taut midfield battle barely opened up over the final half-hour, but just when it seemed as if the teams would share the points, Oscar Pareja burst through with a failed clearance and clipped a perfect cross to an unmarked Nhleko just inside the spot, and he powerfully headed home.

The West leaders played to a lifeless scoreless draw at The Home Depot Center, though both the Galaxy and Crew narrowly missed chances to break the deadlock in the closing minutes, Columbus playing to a draw for the fifth time in six matches.

Carlos Ruiz nearly put home a quick-thinking backheel from the heart of the box with 10 minutes to go, but hooked it just over the bar. The Crew raced to the other end where Columbus defender Duncan Oughton hammered a drive from well outside the area -- only to see it come back off the underside of the bar.

At RFK Stadium, a late Andy Dorman goal gave United and the Revolution a share of the spoils -- and blunted the impact of a wonderful Jaime Moreno display. Steve Ralston gave the visitors the lead in the 38th minute when he skipped through a couple of tackles in the area and hooked a curling shot inside the left-hand post.

But straight off the kickoff, United equalized when Moreno tapped home from close range after the Revs failed to clear a bouncing ball in the box, then after the break, Moreno gave the home side the lead on a wonderful goal, sprung by a terrific through ball from Dema Kovalenko before rounding 'keeper Matt Reis and a defender and sliding the ball home.

Yet the Revolution had one more answer, Dorman hitting home from a corner kick after a tackle landed right at his feet in the area (85) and extending their unbeaten run to seven games.

At Soldier Field, two long-range bombs in a three-goal second-half burst gave the Rapids a 3-0 victory against the Fire and match the results from the rest of the lower half of the Western Conference, while the home side failed to build on their midweek victory that ended a long winless run.

Mark Chung ripped a drive from some 25 yards out from goal, beating Henry Ring high inside his right-hand spot (50), then 17 minutes later Matt Crawford doubled the Colorado lead with an equally impressive strike, curling home a shot from well outside the right side of the area.

John Spencer then capped the scoring with his second goal in as many games after a long scoreless drought, heading home a Chung freekick whipped in from the left (80) as the Rapids snapped a two-game losing skid.

The weekend victories from the three clubs at the bottom of the West -- Dallas, Colorado and San Jose -- all came after they went down to defeat at midweek to Eastern Conference clubs.

At RFK Stadium on Wednesday, D.C. United put on a very lively attacking display, dominating the Rapids in a 3-1 victory. United took 22 shots on the night -- 11 on target, forcing nine saves out of Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon.

The home side scored twice within five minutes late in the first half to take the lead. Freddy Adu -- who played the full match in behind the front two -- ran onto a slide-rule pass from Josh Gros on the left and coolly slotted home from the spot for his fourth goal (35). Then Earnie Stewart doubled the lead after he collected a crossfield pass from Alecko Eskandarian and perfectly placed his shot inside the far post.

United then scored a third midway through the second half when Moreno danced around three defenders into the area before trying to lay back a pass -- only for defender Ritchie Kotschau to turn it into his own goal and he chased from behind (64). The Rapids pulled a goal back when John Spencer scored his first goal since an Opening Day strike against Dallas, finishing a quick break off a turnover with a low drive from just inside the area.

The Fire won a league match for the first time since June 5, overcoming a man disadvantage for more than a half in defeating the Earthquakes 2-1 to snap a nine-game winless streak.

Andy Williams gave the home side a 41st-minute lead with a terrific first-time strike from outside the area, curling a ball chested down by Nate Jaqua inside Pat Onstad's right-hand post. But the Fire's celebration was short-lived, Logan Pause sent off for a studs-up challenge on Richard Mulrooney barely a minute later.

Referee Terry Vaughn was at the center of the action midway through the second half, ruling that Denny Clanton tugged down San Jose's Ching in the heart of the area and giving the penalty, Ronnie Ekelund hammering the spot kick off the underside of the bar for the equalizer (76).

But just five minutes later the Fire scored the game-winner, Williams hitting a cross from the left flank and Onstad could flap at, Damani Ralph bundling it over the line at the far post.

The Revolution extended their unbeaten run to six games -- winning for just the second time in that stretch -- scoring an early goal before surviving to claim two late ones in a 3-0 victory against the Burn.

The Revs scored after just three minutes, Pat Noonan turning home a low ball pulled back from the byeline by Steve Ralston for his eighth goal of the season and third in as many matches.

But then New England was put on the back foot for long stretches, though the Burn couldn't find their way past Revs 'keeper Matt Reis, who was credited with seven saves. The visitors then scored twice late on the break, Taylor Twellman turning home an Dorman pass in the 87th minute before the rookie midfielder scored his first professional goal four minutes into stoppage time.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.


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