The Columbus Crew had appeared to have snatched a vital victory from Eastern Conference-leading New England Revolution -- until Taylor Twellman once again performed his stoppage-time heroics, heading home a late equalizer to leave the teams with a 1-1 draw Wednesday night at Crew Stadium.
Knox Cameron scored in his second consecutive match for the Crew, but his goal wasn't enough for the reorganized Crew attack as Pat Noonan and Twellman teamed up late to deny the Crew the victory. It was the third time this season Twellman had scored in stoppage-time to snatch a result for the Revolution.
After losing to the Chicago Fire over the weekend, interim coach Robert Warzycha decided to abandon his 3-4-3 formation for the first time. In addition to dropping one front-runner (Kyle Martino) back into the midfield, Warzycha included Mario Rodriguez and Edson Buddle into the opening lineup. Both were making their first starts since July 9, the last match under the guidance of Greg Andrulis.
The Revolution created the first pair of scoring chances -- one for each squad -- of the match in the 12th minute. After Jonny Walker made a diving save to deny a rocket shot by Pat Noonan, an errant back pass from the Revolution midfield allowed Cameron to move in on 'keeper Matt Reis, but his shot was well off the mark.
Other than that lapse of judgment, the Revolution defense looked much more like the one allowed more than two goals only once in the first 26 games rather than the porous side that allowed five goals to the MetroStars on Saturday.
The Crew searched for a quick strike to begin the second half that began in a much more open manner than that first ended. Jay Heaps blocked a shot by Buddle that appeared well off target and Simon Elliott volleyed the loose ball just wide of the target.
After Elliott fouled Clint Dempsey in the 53rd minute, Steve Ralston fired in the free kick to Heaps whose header was right at the hands of Walker, who pushed it wide for a corner. Following the corner, Dempsey was left alone for a volley, but his shot went well wide of the goal.
The Revolution wasted another great chance minutes later following a sloppy turnover in the Crew midfield. Robin Fraser was left exposed against a three-man rush. However, the Crew captain was able to block Twellman's shot.
Columbus opened the scoring for the night in the 66th minute as Cameron made amends for missing his first half chance with his fourth goal of the season.
After Martino was fouled by Shalrie Joseph some 40 yards from goal, Elliott served the free kick to a towering Chad Marshall. The defender headed the ball down off of the feet of Heaps and Cameron was there to pound home the loose ball to give the Crew the lead.
Buddle looked to single-handedly double the Crew's lead with a strong solo run in the 75th minute. After picking up the ball near the center line, the Crew striker whipped a left-footed shot just wide of the post.
The Crew again failed to add to the lead in the 81st minute after Reis was unable to hold onto a free kick from Elliott. After the ball dropped from the 'keeper's hands, substitute John Wolyniec shot the ball right into his chest.
The Crew survived a late scare from the league's leading scorer in the 86th minute. Following a cleared free kick, Noonan sent a ball to Twellman at the back post. The clever striker managed to beat the Crew defense, but his shot clanged off the woodwork from close range.
However, it wasn't the last chance for the visitors on the night and Twellman didn't miss his chance in the 93rd minute. Heaps pushed the ball wide to Noonan, and the Crew gave him too much time to set up a perfect cross to Twellman. He rose up in the six-yard box to send home the leveling goal in the closing moments, his league-leading 16th on the season, and all but end the Crew's chances for a place in the MLS Cup Playoffs.
The Crew travel west to tackle Real Salt Lake on Saturday night while the Revolution look for redemption, after last weekend's high-scoring loss when they play host to the MetroStars.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Taylor Twellman (New England Revolution)
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.