The Columbus Crew extended their MLS-record unbeaten run to 17 games in a 1-1 away draw to the MetroStars at Giants Stadium on Saturday night. Jeff Cunningham's first-half goal gave a reserve-filled Crew side the lead before it was canceled out by Sergio Galvan Rey's second-half penalty.
Cunningham was a force all night for the Crew, and the goal was his 62nd to tie Brian McBride for the most in club history, a typically opportunistic strike. But Galvan Rey converted from the spot after Eddie Gaven was tripped up midway through the second half.
From the start Cunningham was dangerous. A second minute one-two with 17-year-old Danny Szetela didn't quite come off, but in the 14th minute he again found himself in the mix after finding a ball that had been headed down by David Testo, but Cunningham ripped a curling shot just wide of the far post from outside the area.
MetroStars defender Kenny Arena moved in to shield Cunningham from the ball, but the Columbus forward opportunistically reached his right foot around Arena and poked the ball over the oncoming Jonny Walker to put the Crew on the board.
The MetroStars created several first half chances, but were unable to get one by Matt Jordan, making his league debut in a Crew uniform in place of the resting Jon Busch. One of the best came in the 36th minute Pablo Brenes put a free kick on the head of Gilberto Flores, but it looped up and nestled on top of Jordan's goal.
Jordan made himself more of a factor in the second half. Pushing forward from his right back position, Chris Leitch delivered a beautiful cross into the box for Galvan Rey in the 53rd minute, but Jordan reacted quickly to scamper to his right and secure the save. Four minutes earlier, Wolyniec caught the outside of the post trying to connect on a Brenes corner kick.
The Metros equalized in the 71st minute after a clearance came out to midfield, but only as far as Gaven. He pounced on the ball and made a powerful run into the box where he was tripped by Duncan Oughton, drawing the penalty kick call from referee Ricardo Salazar.
Galvan Rey stepped into the spot normally occupied by Honduran international Amado Guevara, and hit a well-placed strike into the upper right-hand corner of the goal to tie the match.
Neither team seemed content to leave with only one point, and the best opportunities to take a victory occurred during an exciting stretch approaching the final quarter-hour.
A 75th-minute flurry in front of Walker which included a shot off the foot of Brian Maisonneuve ended when Cunningham drove a long rebound off the crossbar. Two minutes later, Gaven won another free kick, this one just outside the Crew penalty area. He took his own kick which made its way through the wall, but a well-positioned Jordan crouched low to make the save on a short hop.
The Crew experienced some anxious moments in the 80th minute when Joselito Vaca drove a cross that appeared a routine catch for Jordan. But the former Burn regular had the ball deflect back off his hands and he recovered to grab it just before it bounced in front of the goal line.
The final minutes brought final flurries from both sides. In the 89th minute, Gaven took a corner kick and Galvan Rey took a mini-bicycle shot off Jordan's chest. Moments later, Edson Buddle made a brilliant run along the left goal line and crossed smartly in front of an open goal where Szetela was seconds too late to finish what would have been his first MLS goal.
The MetroStars will play D.C. United each of the next three weekends. The clubs will finish the regular season next Sunday at RFK Stadium (5 p.m. ET, ESPN2) to determine which side will enjoy home-field advantage in their first-round playoff series. The MetroStars need only a draw to claim second place in the East.
The Crew wind up the season next Saturday in Colorado against the Rapids (9 p.m. ET), and a victory will assure them of finishing at least tied for the most points in Major League Soccer. They will open the playoffs in two weeks against either the Chicago Fire or New England Revolution.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Jeff Cunningham (Columbus Crew)
Columbus Crew (12-5-12) vs. MetroStars (11-11-7)
October 09, 2004 -- Giants Stadium
CLB -- Jeff Cunningham 9 (unassisted) 26
MET -- Sergio Galvan Rey 2 (penalty kick) 71
Columbus Crew -- Matt Jordan, Nelson Akwari, Chris Wingert, Eric Denton, David Testo (Chad Marshall 74), Manny Lagos, Brian Maisonneuve, Danny Szetela, Devin Barclay (Duncan Oughton 70), Jeff Cunningham, Michael Ritch (Edson Buddle 60).
Substitutes Not Used: Jon Busch, Jamal Sutton.
TOTAL SHOTS: 6 (Jeff Cunningham 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 1 (Jeff Cunningham 1); FOULS: 19 (Danny Szetela 4); OFFSIDES: 4 (Jeff Cunningham 2, Danny Szetela 2); CORNER KICKS: 2 (Devin Barclay 2); SAVES: 6 (Matt Jordan 5)
MetroStars -- Jonny Walker, Tim Regan (Fabian Taylor 66), Kenny Arena, Jeff Parke, Chris Leitch, Gilberto Flores (Joselito Vaca 66), Pablo Brenes, Ricardo Clark, Sergio Galvan Rey, Eddie Gaven, John Wolyniec.
Substitutes Not Used: Seth Stammler, Zach Wells.
TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Pablo Brenes 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Sergio Galvan Rey 3); FOULS: 12 (Gilberto Flores 4); OFFSIDES: 2 (Pablo Brenes 1, Sergio Galvan Rey 1); CORNER KICKS: 8 (Pablo Brenes 3, Eddie Gaven 3); SAVES: 0
CLB -- Danny Szetela (caution; Pushing, Holding) 39
MET -- Tim Regan (caution; Dissent) 62
CLB -- Brian Maisonneuve (caution; Deliberate Handball) 81
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Referee's Assistants: -Thomas Supple; Richard Eddy
4th Official: Alex Prus
Time of Game: 1:53
All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.