VANCOUVER, B.C. — Jeff Cunningham scored his 133rd career goal in dramatic fashion, heading home in the final minute Wednesday night at Empire Field to secure the Columbus Crew a 1-0 victory against Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
The goal means Cunningham is now tied with Jamie Moreno atop Major League Soccer’s all-time regular-season scoring chart, and stands alone as the Crew's all-time leading scorer.
Columbus took advantage of having an extra man over the last 12 minutes as Whitecaps winger Shea Salinas saw red in the 78th minute for a late tackle on fullback Josh Gardner. It was Gardner's cross that found Cunningham unmarked in the area, and the veteran made no mistake in nodding it past Joe Cannon.
But the match could have been so different for the ‘Caps. The team looked strong in the first half, controlling the ball well with 56 percent of the possession, and creating a number of quality chances, the best of which happened right before the halftime whistle.
The lively Camilo Sanvezzo, who managed two shots on goal in the first half, put the ball on a platter for Salinas. But the winger's low effort grazed the upright to the relief of Crew ‘keeper William Hesmer, meaning the teams went in scoreless at the break.
The second half was where the Crew took over, starting from the break, as Eddie Gaven took a wonderful touch to set up Robbie Rogers, but the midfielder shot wide under pressure from Cannon.
The other major talking point of the second half apart from the Salinas sending off was an unconverted penalty in the 72nd minute.
Alain Rochat was dragged down in the box and midfielder Terry Dunfield stepped up to take the penalty. But Hesmer read Dunfield's weak effort, diving to his right to stop the initial shot before securing the rebound.
The win means Columbus improve to 7-5-6 (27 points) in MLS play, good for third in the Eastern Conference. The Whitecaps continue to sit at the bottom of the Western Conference with a record of 2-9-8 (14 points).
Columbus next host the San Jose Earthquakes on July 16, while Vancouver travel to Colorado to take on the defending MLS Cup champions Rapids on Saturday.
CLB -- Jeff Cunningham 1 (Josh Gardner 1) 90
VAN -- Gershon Koffie (caution; Tactical Foul) 7
VAN -- Camilo (caution; Reckless Foul) 23
CLB -- Eric Gehrig (caution; Delaying a Restart) 74
VAN -- Shea Salinas (ejection; Serious Foul Play) 77
CLB -- Chad Marshall (caution; Tactical Foul) 84
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Chad Marshall, Sebastian Miranda, Julius James, Josh Gardner, Robbie Rogers, Dejan Rusmir (Jeff Cunningham 83), Eddie Gaven, Eric Gehrig, Andres Mendoza (Tommy Heinemann 70), Bernardo Anor (Justin Meram 76).
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Burns, Danny O'Rourke, Korey Veeder, Andy Gruenebaum.
Vancouver Whitecaps -- Joe Cannon, Wes Knight, Michael Boxall, Jonathan Leathers, Alain Rochat, Shea Salinas, Gershon Koffie, Peter Vagenas (Terry Dunfield 64), Nizar Khalfan, Omar Salgado (Michael Nanchoff 73), Camilo.
Substitutes Not Used: Jeb Brovsky, Bilal Duckett, Greg Janicki, Long Tan, Jay Nolly.
Referee: Chris Penso
Referee's Assistants: Darren Clark; Mike Rottersman
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Sunny and 72 degrees