Three captain comebacks in Week 17
Amazing comebacks were the order of the day, as the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes both scored last-gasp equalizers to claim vital points in the Western Conference and the MetroStars posted one of their own to stay atop the East and give Bob Bradley his 100th career victory, as Week 17 in Major League Soccer concluded with the last full league program before the All-Star break.
In the top-of-the-table clash between the league's top two teams, the Galaxy recovered from a two-goal deficit in the second half to claim a 2-2 draw against the Kansas City Wizards, thanks to a goal deep into second-half stoppage time. And in San Jose, the Earthquakes scored two goals in added time as they came back from the dead to earn a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution.
At the Meadowlands, the MetroStars spotted the Chicago Fire a goal before scoring twice to make Bradley the first MLS coach to reach the century mark in victories and end more than two years of frustration against their Eastern Conference rival with a 2-1 win.
In Saturday's other games, the Dallas Burn kept pace in the West with a 5-1 victory over a severely depleted D.C. United team, while the Colorado Rapids and Columbus Crew played to a limp scoreless draw.
At Arrowhead Stadium, the match between the clubs separated by just a point in the West and the MLS overall table had a playoff intensity from the start, each team also riding unbeaten streaks (the Wizards eight games without a loss, the Galaxy five).
But the game truly exploded into life when the Wizards scored twice in a three-minute span just before the hour, Davy Arnaud first finishing off a neat tic-tac-toe movement with a rolling shot from inside the area past Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman (57), then Jack Jewsbury ripping home a low blast from outside the area.
Yet it took just six minutes for the Galaxy to respond, Carlos Ruiz playing a perfect dummy on a Cobi Jones cross, Sasha Victorine left alone to coolly sweep it home. Then after tempers had flared and threatened to boil over, in the fifth minute of stoppage time Andreas Herzog whipped in a rebound of a cleared corner, Tyrone Marshall sending a glancing header inside Tony Meola's far post to keep Los Angeles ahead in the West.
At Spartan Stadium, the Revolution came into the match in a season that couldn't possibly get worse did just that during the week, first dumped out of the U.S. Open Cup on penalties, then losing rookie standout Clint Dempsey long-term to a broken jaw.
But Pat Noonan sharply headed home a Richie Baker cross in the first half (25), then just after the break, José Cancela pounced on a poor clearance and sent a sublime curling effort over Quakes 'keeper Pat Onstad to double the Revs lead (54).
The Quakes' night seemed finished in the 62nd minute when defender Troy Dayak was sent off, but the home side showed that their magical heroics of a year ago weren't quite dead yet. First, Landon Donovan got on the end of a nifty Brian Ching backheel just after the 90-minute mark to pull one goal back, then four minutes into injury time Dwayne De Rosario drove a low cross into the goalmouth where Ching came sliding in to stab home the leveller.
At Giants Stadium, the Fire looked as it they would continue their hex over the MetroStars when Chris Armas took advantage of a missed clearance by Eddie Gaven and poked the bouncing ball past Jonny Walker from close range to take the lead against the run of play (23).
But Gaven made amends when he was clipped on the edge of the area just before halftime, Amado Guevara converting a penalty for the third consecutive league match and for the fifth time in five attempts this season.
Then after the break, Mike Magee wonderful pass out of midfield sent John Wolyniec free behind the Fire back three, and he made no mistake in looping a shot over Henry Ring for the 57th-minute match winner, the first time in 10 league contests (since June 2002) the Metros had defeated Chicago. As well, it was the first time Bradley had ever defeated the club that he took to one MLS Cup and two U.S. Open Cup triumphs from 1998-2002, as the Fire saw their poor run of form extended to eight league games without victory.
At the Cotton Bowl, Brad Davis and Eddie Johnson each grabbed a double as the Burn overwhelmed a United team missing nearly the majority of their first-choice lineup, most through injury then exacerbated by the midweek transfer of U.S. international Bobby Convey to Reading FC in England.
Steve Jolley put the home side ahead after just 10 minutes when he headed home a Davis free kick whipped in from the right, then Johnson doubled the lead when he flicked home first-time a Carey Talley cross from the right flank (31).
United pulled a goal back three minutes when Freddy Adu saw his driven cross from the left deflected into the net by Burn defender Cory Gibbs, but Davis restored the margin before the break when his angled shot on the run from the left took a deflection and looped over helpless United 'keeper Troy Perkins.
Davis then completed his double in the 63rd minute, racing onto a slide-rule diagonal pass from Oscar Pareja to slot home, before Johnson finished off a pass from Bobby Rhine from the heart of the United area to cap the scoring 10 minutes later.
In Denver, an injury-hit Rapids backline still held firm in earning a scoreless draw with Columbus. Neither 'keeper was terribly tested over the 90 minutes, but Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon was forced into a quality save when Crew striker Jeff Cunningham rounded a defender for a close-range shot in the first half. Jean-Philippe Peguero slashed in for a powerful diving header in the second half, but in a real example of the entire day, it went right at Crew 'keeper Jon Busch.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.