A back-and-forth first half gave way to a frenetic second half as the San Jose Earthquakes and Columbus Crew played to an ultimately entertaining 1-1 draw at Crew Stadium Saturday evening.
“I am very happy with the way we played tonight,” said Quakes head coach Frank Yallop. “I thought that we deserved the three points and we were very dangerous all night, especially in the second half. This group of players showed once again that you can never count them out. I am glad that we got something out of the game with the way that we played.”
A set-piece goal from Columbus defender Glauber midway through the second half staked the home side to a 1-0 lead, but it was quickly answered by a superb long-range effort from Justin Morrow. The result earned each side a point in the Crew’s regular season opener.
MLS original Ramiro Corrales was the victim on the Crew’s goal as he was easily out maneuvered to the corner kick delivery by Glauber, but the Quakes captain provided a measure of redemption with his well struck cross-field pass to Morrow to assist on the Earthquakes equalizer.
“On the goal, I got a good ball from Ramiro (Corrales) and I looked up again, but I decided at the last second to shoot,” said Morrow. “I thought I hit it pretty well so I knew it had a chance. I am glad it went in and we were able to get a result tonight.”
Morrow’s goal marked the second of his MLS career, adding to the first goal of his career tallied last May against DC United. The Cleveland native had looked forward to playing back in his old stomping grounds and was pleased his efforts contributed to the result.
“It was great to play in front of family and friends in my home state and get a good result,” said Morrow. “I played a number of games in Crew Stadium in high school so it was fun to come back here. It brings back a lot of memories.”
Last season, the two teams played to an identical result in a late May game at Buck Shaw Stadium. In that match, forward Alan Gordon was the hero with his acrobatic equalizer in the 90th minute to save the Earthquakes blushes. Saturday’s result was the third straight draw between the two teams at Crew Stadium and pushed the Earthquakes overall unbeaten streak against Columbus to six games.
“You can see the guys getting their confidence more and more each game,” said goalkeeper Jon Busch. “We had a tough start at home with Real Salt Lake, but we have put together two good games in a row. We really could have had three points tonight with the way we played.”
The Earthquakes made one change to the starting line-up that featured in the first two matches of the season as a foot injury to Mike Fucito opened the door for rookie Adam Jahn to make his first ever MLS start. In addition, new signing Walter Martinez was added to the bench and available to make his San Jose debut as a substitute.
The frigid and windy conditions at Crew Stadium did little to help energize the match, and neither side was able muster much up on offense over the first 45 minutes. Chris Wondolowski had a good opportunity in the 14th minute after receiving a pass from Jahn and cutting toward the top of the penalty area, but the MLS MVP sent his curling left-footer right into the hands of the waiting Andy Gruenebaum. Jahn had his own chance in the 30th minute as Shea Salinas picked out the rookie forward at the far post, but the Crew defense scrambled into position to deflect Jahn’s effort.
San Jose goalkeeper Busch provided the highlight of the first half when he made a spectacular reaction save on a shot from the Crew’s Dominic Oduro in the 35th minute. A well turned ball in the area by midfielder Ben Speas resulted in a shot that looked like it was on target and had the Quakes ‘keeper moving into position to make the save. However, Oduro delivered a slight redirection to the ball and Busch desperately stuck out his trailing leg to deflect the ball wide of the post and keep the match scoreless.
The start of the second half saw the Earthquakes force a pair of saves from Gruenebaum, as in the 50th minute Salinas slipped on an attempt from the top of the area and sent his shot straight to the ‘keeper and in the 60th minute Wondolowski forced a low shot through traffic that missed at the far post.
It appeared the Earthquakes would get on the scoreboard a minute later when Wondolowski was again at the center of the action. Cutting into the area from the left side, Wondolowski fired a shot on target that was smothered by defender Tyson Wahl. The Quakes forward pounced on the loose ball and aimed a shot to the far post, but former MLS Defender of the Year cleared the ball off the line.
The Crew began to see more of the ball as they made a pair of substitutions, and in the 67th minute converted for the game’s first goal. From a corner kick delivery from Federico Higuain, Brazilian defender Glauber was first to a ball in front of his marker Corrales and headed home the shot in front of an appreciative Nordecke supporters’ terrace.
The Earthquakes responded with an equalizer in the 74th minute through Morrow. With space to operate in the center of the field, Corrales served up a measure of redemption for his earlier defensive mistake by spraying a perfect pass to the onrushing Morrow on the left wing. The 2012 MLS All-Star defender took a touch toward the area and unleashed a rocket past Gruenebaum and just inside the far post to level the score at one goal apiece.
The visitors turned up the heat over the last 15 minutes of the match, but unlike last weekend against the New York Red Bulls, were unable to find a late game winning goal and the teams settled for a 1-1 draw.
San Jose returns to Buck Shaw Stadium next Saturday to face Western Conference rival Seattle Sounders as the Earthquakes will look to push their unbeaten streak to three games.