Neither the MetroStars nor the Columbus Crew could find their way to the back of the net on Sunday evening at Giants Stadium, the teams finally settling for a frustrating 1-1 draw that left things status quo atop the Eastern Conference.
Crew 'keeper Jon Busch stonewalled the MetroStars with a dozen saves, including eight in the second half, to hold his end of the bargain, while the MetroStars could thank the woodwork and a late goal line clearance as they remained two points ahead of the Crew in the East, despite the visitors seeing their unbeaten streak extend to a club record 10 games.
John Wolyniec finally forced a rebound of an Amado Guevara free kick over the line to give the Metros a 21st-minute lead, then Ross Paule converted a penalty kick 14 minutes later to cap the scoring.
Metros coach Bob Bradley was forced into a change after just 20 minutes, when Bolivian international Joselito Vaca was caught in a tackle and suffered what was later diagnosed as a sprained MCL in his right knee. Bradley brought on Pablo Brenes in his return to MLS after a terrific performance for Costa Rica in the Athens Olympic Games.
Shortly thereafter it was Guevara who helped get the MetroStars rolling onto the scoreboard. Cornell Glen took the ball and made a long run deep into Columbus territory before being dragged down to win a free kick, literally as Brenes came running onto the field.
Guevara stepped into the free kick and sent a blistering shot aimed at the upper left corner, but Jon Busch leaped and deflected the shot off the crossbar. It caromed out to John Wolyniec, whose first offering was slowed by Busch's leg as he crashed heavily against the post. The ball rolled towards the goal line where Wolyniec finished it off for his seventh goal of the season.
The Crew got their act together shortly thereafter, just missing the equalizer when Chad Marshall headed a Simon Elliott cross off the far post in the 32nd minute. A minute later, Kyle Martino split Mike Magee and Jeff Parke on a dynamic run, and Parke wound up tripping Martino in the box to earn a penalty kick for the Crew.
Ross Paule stepped into the penalty and found the lower right corner, out of the reach of Jonny Walker, whose valiant effort was not enough. It was Paule's fourth goal of the season.
The Crew then nearly took the lead after the break when Edson Buddle appeared to have finished off a fine movement with a low drive ticketed for the lower corner, only for that too to come back off the post and again save the home side.
Busch put up a wall in the second half, combining his positionally sound play with his quick reflexes to keep the MetroStars off the board. In the 58th minute, Eddie Gaven dribbled deep and sent a pass back to Glen, but Busch was in the right spot and made an easy save. Two minutes later he scooted to his left to pick off a Guevara free kick that eluded the defensive wall.
Busch's two largest plays of the evening came in the 65th and 71st minutes respectively. In the 65th he leaped high off the ground to tap Guevara's 23-yard blast over the top of the goal. In the 71st, substitute Pablo Brenes found himself behind the Columbus defense on the left side, but he was thwarted when Busch bravely ran off his line to smother Brenes' attempt to give the MetroStars a lead.
There were plenty of dramatics after the clock ticked over for the full 90 minutes. After being booked for protesting a foul suffered on the sideline in the 87th minute, Guevara received a second yellow card five minutes in similar circumstances, after he was again hooked down from behind in midfield and then vociferously complained to Marrufo.
The Crew nearly took advantage. Marshall again got free on a corner and sent a header goalward that was headed inside the post, but Brenes held his position and was there to clear off the line. The rebound deflected to Jeff Cunningham, who found Duncan Oughton all alone in front of goal, but his quick shot was somehow miraculously deflected at close range by Walker to preserve the deadlock.
The MetroStars return to action on Wednesday when they travel to Kansas City to face the Wizards in a battle of conference leaders (8:30 p.m. ET), while the Crew will play host to the Los Angeles Galaxy in their next match on Saturday in Columbus (7:30 p.m.; FSW/E).
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Duncan Oughton (Columbus Crew)
Columbus Crew (7-5-10) vs. MetroStars (9-8-6)
August 29, 2004 -- Giants Stadium
MET -- John Wolyniec 7 (unassisted) 21
CLB -- Ross Paule 4 (penalty kick) 35
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Nelson Akwari (Danny Szetela 74), Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Frankie Hejduk (David Testo 83), Duncan Oughton, Ross Paule, Chris Wingert, Simon Elliott, Edson Buddle, Kyle Martino (Jeff Cunningham 73).
Substitutes Not Used: Devin Barclay, Clint Baumstark.
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Edson Buddle 3, Simon Elliott 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (4 tied with 1); FOULS: 19 (Robin Fraser 4, Duncan Oughton 4); OFFSIDES: 10 (Edson Buddle 3); CORNER KICKS: 4 (Simon Elliott 2, Ross Paule 2); SAVES: 12 (Jon Busch 12)
MetroStars -- Jonny Walker, Tenywa Bonseu, Jeff Parke, Eddie Pope, Joselito Vaca (Pablo Brenes 20), Amado Guevara, Mike Magee, Eddie Gaven, Chris Leitch, John Wolyniec (Sergio Galvan Rey 80), Cornell Glen (Fabian Taylor 64).
Substitutes Not Used: Kenny Arena, Ricardo Clark, Tim Regan, Seth Stammler, Zach Wells, Craig Ziadie.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (John Wolyniec 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 13 (Amado Guevara 4); FOULS: 11 (Amado Guevara 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (3 tied with 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Mike Magee 4); SAVES: 3 (Jonny Walker 2)
MET -- Eddie Pope (caution; Professional Foul) 29
MET -- Mike Magee (caution; Pushing, Holding) 35
CLB -- Nelson Akwari (caution; Professional Foul) 50
CLB -- David Testo (caution; Pushing, Holding) 87
MET -- Amado Guevara (caution; Dissent) 87
CLB -- Danny Szetela (caution; Professional Foul) 91+
MET -- Amado Guevara (caution; Dissent) 92+
MET -- Amado Guevara (ejection; Second Caution) 92+
Referee: Jair Marrufo
Referee's Assistants: Robert Fereday; Kenneth Kaplan
4th Official: Roni Canales
Time of Game: 1:54
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial