Crew Holds on to Eastern Conference Throne
- George Pennington
- Sun Sep 20 2009, 11:04pm GMT
Eastern Conference powerhouses Columbus Crew and Chicago Fire collided in Toyota Park Sunday afternoon in a battle for the top of the table. Chicago came in trailing Columbus by three points, 39 to 42.
Two first half goals sent the defending MLS champions into the locker room with heads spinning. In the 6th and 36th minutes, newcomer and starting XI hopeful Peter Lowry scored despite the efforts of Will Hesmer. The Columbus defense was not one that reflected recent play from the Black and Gold. The halftime score was almost 3-0 as Brian McBride uncharacteristically missed a header within six yards.
The deficit was one from which Columbus would barely recover. A goal by Guillermo Barros Schelotto in the 55th minute - his first since June 14th - left Columbus searching for the equalizer. Although Schelotto's goal seemed to give them a new wind, poor control in the midfield generated few scoring chances for the Crew.
The game changed dramatically as Steven Lenhart - who subbed in for defender Andy Iro - was pulled down inside the box. Schelotto took the penalty kick in the 78th and fired a bullet past Fire keeper Jon Busch to even things up and make the final score 2-2.
As the final whistle blew, teams left the field with little changed. Columbus, now at 43 points, maintained its three-point lead on Chicago and remained alone at the top of the East.
Next weekend Chicago will again play at home, this time against Toronto FC, as the Crew returns to Columbus to host the LA Galaxy. With the end of the season looming on the horizon, every point will matter as the tight race continues.