The MetroStars started the second half of the year the same way they started the season -- with a disappointing home draw.
Ante Razov put the Metros in front in the 51st minute but Jeff Cunningham equalized nine minutes later in a 1-1 tie at Giants Stadium on Saturday night. The Metros opened the season with a scoreless draw against Real Salt Lake on April 2.
It was a vital point for the Rapids, who at least temporarily increased their advantage ahead of Real Salt Lake for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Metros coach Bob Bradley slightly altered his starting 11 from last Saturday's 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Galaxy, bringing in Youri Djorkaeff, who missed two games with a right hamstring strain.
The former French international teamed up with Razov up top while Sergio Galvan Rey returned to the bench but the "King of Goals" came in for Djorkaeff at the half. Carlos Mendes started in place of Tim Regan in central defense, alongside Jeff Parke with Jeff Agoos on the left and Chris Leitch on the right.
From the outset, the MetroStars had the upper hand in the match. Their best scoring chance of the first half came less than three minutes into the game when Amado Guevara's corner kick found Djorkaeff at the far post, but his header went off the post.
While the Metros dominated possession in the first half, their passing wasn't crisp and it nearly cost them in the 38th minute when Cunningham, who is tied for the league's scoring lead with Metros-killer Pat Noonan and Taylor Twellman, both of New England, picked up an errant pass and raced free towards goal. But his low shot rolled wide to Wells' right.
A nice combination between Mark Lisi and Guevara set up the Metros lone goal in the 51st minute. Guevara cut through traffic near the top of the box and Razov blasted a deflected ball past Joe Cannon from the top of the restraining arc. It was Razov's 82nd career goal and fifth of the year.
But Colorado equalized nine minutes later on a brilliant first-time strike by Cunningham, who blasted Ritchie Kotschau's cross into the net on the full volley from the right corner of the six-yard box for his league-leading ninth goal of the year.
Cunningham then took off his jersey, ran to the corner and waved the corner flag, all of which led to a rather obvious yellow card by referee Alex Prus.
A deep cross by Kyle Beckerman in the 79th minute sent Zach Wells back on his heels, but the Metros 'keeper was able to get a hand on the ball.
The MetroStars desperately pushed forward in search of the go-ahead goal but all they could muster out of a series of corner kicks in the closing minutes was a close range shot by second half substitute Abbe Ibrahim that was kicked away by Cannon in the third minute of stoppage time. Ibrahim had come on in the 84th minute for Razov, who left the field with cramping. For Cannon, it was his seventh save of the game.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Joe Cannon (Colorado Rapids)
Dylan Butler is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.
Colorado Rapids (5-10-2) vs. MetroStars (6-4-6)
July 16, 2005 -- Giants Stadium
MET -- Ante Razov 5 (unassisted) 51
COL -- Jeff Cunningham 9 (Eric Denton 2, Ritchie Kotschau 1) 60
Colorado Rapids -- Joe Cannon, Ricky Lewis, Nat Borchers, Mike Petke, Ritchie Kotschau, Alain Nkong, Terry Cooke, Leo Cullen (Kyle Beckerman 55), Eric Denton, Jeff Cunningham, Luchi Gonzalez.
Substitutes Not Used: Byron Foss, Hunter Freeman, Wolde Harris, Guy Melamed.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Jeff Cunningham 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Jeff Cunningham 2); FOULS: 11 (Alain Nkong 3); OFFSIDES: 4 (Jeff Cunningham 3); CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 6 (Joe Cannon 6)
MetroStars -- Zach Wells, Chris Leitch, Carlos Mendes, Jeff Parke, Jeff Agoos, Eddie Gaven, Michael Bradley, Mark Lisi, Amado Guevara, Ante Razov, Youri Djorkaeff (Sergio Galvan Rey 46).
Substitutes Not Used: Ramon Bailey, Danilo da Silva, Abbe Ibrahim, Mike Magee, Tony Meola, Tim Regan, Seth Stammler, Ryan Suarez.
TOTAL SHOTS: 17 (Ante Razov 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Ante Razov 3); FOULS: 8 (Chris Leitch 3); OFFSIDES: 2 (Amado Guevara 1, Ante Razov 1); CORNER KICKS: 5 (Amado Guevara 5); SAVES: 1 (Zach Wells 1)
COL -- Alain Nkong (caution; Professional Foul) 31
COL -- Jeff Cunningham (caution; Professional Foul) 60
MET -- Chris Leitch (caution; Pushing, Holding) 67
Referee: Alex Prus
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Bill Dittmar
4th Official: Jorge Gonzalez
Weather: Partly Cloudy-and-81-degrees
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.