COLUMBUS –- The rebound wasn’t quite as strong as the Crew wanted, but it still managed to keep one unbeaten streak alive.
Coming off its first defeat Saturday against Los Angeles, the Crew showed they was eager to put the past behind with a strong start at San Jose. However, Columbus could not hold leads and settled for a 2-2 tie on Wednesday to keep it's undefeated record on the road.
“We thought we should have gotten three [points] out of the game,” midfielder Eddie Gaven said. “We played well enough to get them, but at the same time we’ll take one point on the road.”
Gaven scored in the 4th minute before Arturo Alvarez responded less than 62 seconds later. Chad Marshall made it 2-1 for the Crew in the 70th with a patented header off a Guillermo Barros Schelotto corner kick, but the Earthquakes’ Chris Wondolowski scored via a free kick nine minutes later.
The Crew (6-1-3) have two wins and three ties on the road and will play at Colorado this Saturday.
“We have the mentality [that] we should win every game, but we’ll look back on it and say [that] a point on the road isn’t a bad result,” midfielder Robbie Rogers said. “I wondered how the guys would react to the first loss of the season. I thought everyone did a really good job.”
Coach Robert Warzycha made three personnel changes from Saturday: Eric Brunner replaced Andy Iro at centerback, Jason Garey got the call at forward instead of Steven Lenhart, and Emilio Renteria made his first start of the season on the right flank.
Those moves meant that Adam Moffat would start on the bench while Gaven would take over at center midfield, a call that sacrificed defensive prowess for offensive punch.
Warzycha’s revised lineup immediately clicked and not even an entire minute had been played when Rogers just missed a chance from a Gaven service. Not much later, Quakes keeper Joe Cannon was forced into action as he saved Garey’s diving header.
For the first four minutes, it felt as though Wednesday’s match would be a repeat of Saturday’s loss to Los Angeles, a match in which the Crew shot 21 times but couldn’t find the back of the net. Gaven’s goal early goal, however, changed all that.
The play started with right back Jed Zayner’s cross to Schelotto on the left side, who’s shot was stopped by Cannon. The rebound came to the feet of Garey and he tapped it across the goalmouth to assist Gaven in his third goal of the season.
“It was one of those times there was a little open space and I ran through,” Gaven said. “The ball bounced to Jay and he touched it to me. That was definitely one of the easiest goals of my career.”
After Alvarez netted the equalizer within a minute, the Crew regained their composure and had San Jose backtracking through the quarter-hour mark, but they were unable to score a second and the Earthquakes assumed control.
As long as the Crew have Schelotto, though, Columbus are never more than a restart away from scoring, a fact proved when Columbus were awarded a corner kick after Cannon flubbed a Schelotto floater.
Schelotto himself took that corner and served up a tantalizing ball to Marshall, who hit a perfectly placed snap header from 15 yards to score the type of goal Crew fans have expected from the two for the past three seasons.
“Guillermo serves a really good ball and Chad is great in the air, so we’re always thinking we should get a goal every game off corner kicks,” Rogers said.
The goal was especially gratifying, since the Crew failed to convert any of the 15 corners it had against the Galaxy.
But Columbus’ joy was short-lived and, not more than 10 minutes later, San Jose’s Wondolowski scored the equalizer.
Nonetheless, the Crew walk away with a good taste in their mouth because, not only could the game easily been a loss for either team, but also because they found that goal-scoring spark that they lacked against Los Angeles.
“It was good to see the team have a spark,” Gaven said. “Now we need to work on keeping that level the whole game.”