Tony Sanneh's first goal in nearly six years in Major League Soccer gave the Columbus Crew a dramatic 1-0 victory against the San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday night, extending the Crew's club record unbeaten run and guaranteeing they will remain in first place in the Eastern Conference through the weekend.
In just his second match with the Crew after six seasons spent in Germany, Sanneh scored a minute into second-half stoppage time to snatch victory, the first goal allowed by the Earthquakes in more than 7 1/2 hours.
The Earthquakes had the better of the play early, but failed to make Crew 'keeper Jon Busch record a save in the first half.
The Crew nearly scored when midfielder Chris Wingert sent a long shot toward the San Jose goal that confused keeper Jon Conway, but the reserve shot-stopped managed to knock the blast away for a corner kick. Conway also made a diving save at the feet of a sprinting Ross Paule.
The home side turned up the pressure in the second half. In the 53rd minute Mullan showed up again hitting a low shot toward the near post, where it was pushed aside by Busch. Two minutes later, was Brown's turn again as he blasted a shot into the chest of Busch, but it was easily held.
In the 72nd minute, Mullan was the pest again, turning a Crew defender and forcing Busch to handle another rocket off of his right foot.
Hoping to boost the attack Crew coach Greg Andrulis inserted Jeff Cunningham, David Testo and former San Jose player Manny Lagos into the Columbus lineup in the second half, who was presented his 2003 MLS Cup championship ring by San Jose captain Jeff Agoos before the game.
Cunningham replaced Edson Buddle, and the move nearly paid off in the 81st minute when Cunningham sprinted past Craig Waibel, earning a corner kick when Waibel made a last-ditch tackle.
Just when it seemed the match would dwindle to a draw, a Simon Elliott free kick found Sanneh, and he hit for his first MLS goal since the 1998 season, when he was with D.C. United. It was the first goal allowed by the Earthquakes after four consecutive shutouts, snapping a 459-minute shutout streak, the longest in the league this year.
The Earthquakes return to action this weekend, traveling to The Home Depot Center to face arch-rival Los Angeles Galaxy in a vital Western Conference match (10 p.m. ET). The Crew will have 10 days before their next place, a key home game against the MetroStars, who they lead by four points in the Eastern Conference.
MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Tony Sanneh (Columbus Crew)
Columbus Crew (9-5-10) vs. San Jose Earthquakes (9-8-7)
September 08, 2004 -- Spartan Stadium
CLB -- Tony Sanneh 1 (Simon Elliott 7) 91+
Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Nelson Akwari, Robin Fraser, Chad Marshall, Duncan Oughton, Simon Elliott, Ross Paule, Tony Sanneh, Chris Wingert (David Testo 89), Edson Buddle (Jeff Cunningham 65), Kyle Martino (Manny Lagos 79).
Substitutes Not Used: Clint Baumstark, Danny Szetela.
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (7 tied with 1); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (3 tied with 1); FOULS: 15 (Edson Buddle 4); OFFSIDES: 3 (Jeff Cunningham 2); CORNER KICKS: 3 (Ross Paule 3); SAVES: 3 (Jon Busch 3)
San Jose Earthquakes -- Jon Conway, Craig Waibel, Jeff Agoos, Troy Dayak, Todd Dunivant, Ian Russell (Wes Hart 87), Ronnie Ekelund, Ramiro Corrales, Richard Mulrooney, Brian Mullan (Tighe Dombrowski 89), Chris Brown (Jamil Walker 82).
Substitutes Not Used: Arturo Alvarez, Ryan Cochrane, Steve Cronin, Eddie Robinson.
TOTAL SHOTS: 16 (Chris Brown 6, Brian Mullan 6); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Brian Mullan 2); FOULS: 10 (Ronnie Ekelund 2, Craig Waibel 2); OFFSIDES: 4 (Brian Mullan 3); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Jeff Agoos 5); SAVES: 2 (Jon Conway 2)
Referee: Kevin Terry
Referee's Assistants: Paul Scott; Emiliano Monje
4th Official: Ricardo Valenzuela
Time of Game: 1:48
All Statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial