For just the second time this season, the Los Angeles Galaxy were held scoreless, and again it was the Columbus Crew that shut them down, walking out of The Home Depot Center on Wednesday night with a share of the points following a scoreless draw.
Both teams were missing potent strikers who have represented their country -- the Galaxy missing Landon Donovan, currently with the U.S. national team, and the Crew without Ante Razov, who hasn't played in two matches. And as such, both teams started tentatively while searching for a bit of a rhythm.
While the Galaxy controlled much of the possession early on, it was mainly in the middle of the park, and few genuine scoring chances were generated. But after some 20 minutes the possession advantage paid off, and the Galaxy created a flurry of chances, all generated from the flanks.
A great individual effort by the Guatemalan ended in a curling shot from outside the area that bent just high and wide, but his third chance really was the best. Again play came from the wing as a well-placed cross from Jovan Kirovski was met in the area by Ramirez's head, but the effort fell right into the arms of Jon Busch.
Kevin Hartman was also called upon to keep his clean sheet intact, his best save coming in the 40th minute. The first corner kick of the game was taken by the Crew, and Chad Marshall managed a glancing header pinpointed at the near post where a good lunging save from Hartman kept the scoreboard at zeroes.
The match nearly took a dramatic end just before the end of the first half. A number of bodies got tangled in the Crew penalty area off of a Galaxy corner kick, and in the confusion, Robin Fraser rolled into his keeper's knee. Busch lay in pain for a couple of minutes before gamely completing the half, but he was in no health to finish the match.
Rookie 'keeper Bill Gaudette came on for the Crew to start the second half and he was indoctrinated into the MLS almost instantly when Ramirez hit the side netting with a close-range shot just two minutes into the second half, the chance drawing a brief outburst from the home crowd who thought the ball had found the back of the net.
Looking to inject some freshness into the attack, Galaxy boss Steve Sampson brought Mamba Chisoni on in the 56th minute for Cobi Jones and then Joseph Ngwenya in the 64th -- surprising considering just a day earlier the Zimbabwean striker was ruled out of the match with a hernia.
Neither substitute managed to make his presence felt and the injury bug would bite again in the second half, this time at the expense of Galaxy defender Chris Albright, who also went down to an apparent knee injury. In his place came on Ben Benditson, also making his MLS debut.
But that was the only real action of the final half-hour, save a glancing header from Chris Henderson -- acquired by the Crew earlier on Wednesday -- that forced another sprawling save from Hartman six minutes from full time to maintain the scoreless draw.
For the Galaxy it was another game where they dominated the number of shots and scoring chances, yet could not manage to find the back of the net. The tie kept L.A. unbeaten at home, but the 0-0 finish put an end to their perfect home record for the season.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Bill Gaudette (Columbus Crew)
Greg Daurio is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Columbus Crew (3-5-0) vs. Los Angeles Galaxy (5-2-0)
May 25, 2005 -- The Home Depot Center
Scoring Summary: NONE
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch (Bill Gaudette 46), Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Chris Wingert, Chris Henderson, Simon Elliott, Mario Rodriguez, Stephen Herdsman, Edson Buddle (Knox Cameron 89), Kyle Martino (Danny Szetela 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Ryan Kelly, Domenic Mediate.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Edson Buddle 2, Chris Henderson 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Chris Henderson 2); FOULS: 12 (Chris Wingert 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Mario Rodriguez 1, Chris Henderson 1); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Simon Elliott 2); SAVES: 5 (Jon Busch 3)
Los Angeles Galaxy -- Kevin Hartman, Chris Albright (Benjamin Benditson 69), Pablo Chinchilla, Tyrone Marshall, Todd Dunivant, Cobi Jones (Mubarike Chisoni 57), Paulo Nagamura, Peter Vagenas, Guillermo Ramirez (Joseph Ngwenya 64), Jovan Kirovski, Ednaldo da Conceicao.
Substitutes Not Used: Paul Broome, Steve Cronin, Herculez Gomez, Guillermo Gonzalez, Ned Grabavoy, Troy Roberts.
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Guillermo Ramirez 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Jovan Kirovski 2); FOULS: 15 (Todd Dunivant 3); OFFSIDES: 1 (Ednaldo da Conceicao 1); CORNER KICKS: 1 (Jovan Kirovski 1); SAVES: 4 (Kevin Hartman 4)
CLB -- Robin Fraser (caution; Reckless Foul) 10
CLB -- Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Foul) 18
LA -- Chris Albright (caution; Dissent) 38
CLB -- Mario Rodriguez (caution; Reckless Foul) 58 Referee: Ramon Hernandez
Referee's Assistants: Emiliano Monje; Carey E. Rockwell
4th Official: Colin Arblaster
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.