Josh Wolff

Crew, Wizards new kings of the hill

and in the MLS overall table -- after spurning opportunities to do for more than a month.

Wolff hit for the only goal two minutes before the halftime break when he potted the rebound of a Jose Burciaga Jr. shot that Metros goalkeeper Jonny Walker could only parry to give the Wizards just their second victory in their last seven matches while extending the MetroStars winless run to four games.

At Crew Stadium, Ross Paule hit for his first career hat trick to extend the Columbus club-record unbeaten run and lengthen the Galaxy's winless run to seven matches, including the first two under new boss Steve Sampson.

Paule hit for a double before the first half was over, first coming on from behind into the area to slot home after Edson Buddle saw the ball tackled away (26), then 15 minutes later, knocking home a rebound into an empty goal after Galaxy 'keeper Kevin Hartman saved a Buddle shot.

But before the interval, the Galaxy pulled a goal back in stoppage time, Joseph Ngwenya finally coaxing the ball over the line from an Andreas Herzog cross after his header hit the post but Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was unable to cover the rebound off the woodwork.

Yet Paule finished off his triple -- and scored his sixth goal in the last four games -- midway through the second half when he converted from the penalty spot after referee Mark Geiger ruled Galaxy striker Arturo Torres had handled a cross in the area.

At Soldier Field, the Fire won for the second tie in four days -- after winning just once over a 13-match stretch -- and moved past both United and the Revolution into third place in the East.

An own goal gave the home side the lead after 29 minutes, Ryan Nelsen turning a low Justin Mapp cross from the right past 'keeper Troy Perkins. But United pulled level just before the hour, Earnie Stewart knocking home the rebound after Chicago 'keeper Henry Ring made a fine diving stop of an angled drive by Josh Gros.

But it took the Fire just seven minutes to again pull in front, Mapp heading home a C.J. Brown cross from the right on the run, then seven minutes from time Kelly Gray scored his first goal of the season, also heading home a service from Logan Pause.

In Denver, an 85th-minute goal from Nat Borchers extended the Colorado Rapids hot streak at home with a 2-1 victory against the Burn. The Rapids haven't lost in seven home games dating back to June 5, and though they allowed their goal at Invesco Field in nearly nine hours, still claimed the full three points to pull into second in the West.

The visitors took the lead just before the first half ended. Ronnie O'Brien whipped in a cross from the right, finding defender Matt Behncke bursting between defenders, and his full-blooded volley put an end to the 534-minute home shutout streak of Rapids 'keeper Joe Cannon.

But Colorado pulled level seven minutes after the restart when a Jean-Phillipe Peguero cross was headed by Behncke right to John Spencer waiting at the corner of the goal area, and he made no mistake in volleying home his third goal in five games.

The Rapids then claimed the points when Borchers headed home an Antonio de la Torre corner past Burn 'keeper Jeff Cassar.

At Gillette Stadium, despite missing four starters through international duty, the Earthquakes won for the fifth time in eight matches to move out of last place in the West while condemning the Revolution to the non-playoff paying place in the East.

Reserve Chris Brown, making his first appearance in eight league matches, hit for the only goal of the match three minutes after the halftime break as he stepped in for the first-choice strike partnership of Landon Donovan and Brian Ching -- both of whom hit home for the USA in their 2-0 World Cup qualifier victory against El Salvador immediately preceding the Revs-Quakes match. Ian Russell put an early cross from the right, Brown slipping in to head home unchallenged past Rev 'keeper Matt Reis.

For the second consecutive weekend New England striker Taylor Twellman saw his poor run of luck continue, late heroics again denied by the woodwork as his 81st-minute header came back off the left post.

At midweek, Andy Williams and Craig Capano scored goals four minutes apart midway through the second half to give the Chicago Fire a vital victory at home when they defeated the Kansas City Wizards 2-1.

Justin Mapp gave the home side the lead on 23 minutes, after Andy Williams picked him out with a long diagonal ball from midfield. Mapp buried his angled shot from the left side of the area inside the far post for his second goal of the season.

But the Wizards pulled level just after the half-hour, Davy Arnaud's cross from the right flank finding Josh Wolff in the heart of the area who headed past Fire 'keeper D.J. Countess.

Yet desperately seeking to change their recent form, the Fire began to overrun the Wizards after the interval, finally breaking through in the 67th minute, when Mapp turned provider and Williams turned finisher, easily knocking home a cross from the right flank. Capano then capped the scoring on a nearly identical play, sweeping home a Mapp cross from the right.

The Wizards ended the night reduced to 10 men when midfielder Alex Zotinca was sent off for violent conduct after striking at Chicago's C.J. Brown with an elbow.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

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