March 28, 2009 MLS Columbus Crew vs Toronto FC (from MLSnet.com Staff)

Crew settle for point in draw with TFC
Late own goal spoils Columbus' home opener
03/28/2009 06:35 PM By Craig Merz / MLSnet.com Staff

COLUMBUS -- Toronto FC have never beaten the Columbus Crew in seven tries, but they can take solace in knowing their late goal spoiled the Crew's home opener on Saturday at Crew Stadium. An own goal by Crew defender Gino Padula in the 84th minute offset Guillermo Barros Schelotto's penalty kick in the 30th minute as the teams played to a 1-1 tie.

Toronto has opened the season with a win and a draw on the road while the Crew have two ties even though they extended their home unbeaten streak to 9-0-3 since June 7.

The Crew were trying to protect the lead late when Dwayne De Rosario sent a long free kick from the left flank into the box. Padula headed the ball on an arc toward the goal. It hit the crossbar and then the back of the head of goalkeeper William Hesmer before falling across the line to the delight of the legions of Toronto fans who came across the border to Crew Stadium.

Columbus was looking to improve a 3-0-3 mark against Toronto after Schelotto scored his second of the season with the penalty against Stefan Frei, the 13th pick in the 2009 MLS SuperDraft, who was making his second start.

The infraction was called on midfielder Kevin Harmse after Schelotto tried a cross from the right side of the box. The ball hit Harmse on the right arm and referee Michael Kennedy immediately pointed to the spot. Schelotto drilled the ball down the middle as Frei dove to his right.

Both sides were missing key personnel because of national team service. Toronto made two changes in the absence of Honduran midfielder Amado Guevara -- who had two goals in the season opener win against Kansas City -- and Wales midfielder Carl Robinson. Argentinean forward Pablo Vitti made his debut as De Rosario dropped into a playmaking midfield role.

Columbus made three alterations to the lineup that opened its title defense with a 1-1 tie at Houston, although one was injury-related. Rookie Alex Grendi out of the University of Pennsylvania made his first start because left midfielder Robbie Rogers was out with a left hamstring strain.

With captain Frankie Hejduk away with the U.S. squad, third-year defender Jed Zayner made his third career start. Meanwhile, forward Jason Garey took over for Alejandro Moreno (Venezuela). Midfielder Duncan Oughton, one of the top reserves, was also away with New Zealand's national team.

Renewing a rivalry that really took off last season when more than 2,500 red-clad TFC fans invaded Crew Stadium for the season opener, the south bleachers were once again teeming with loud and rowdy Toronto fans while the Crew supporters' gathered en masse in the northeast corner, or the Nordecke.

Prior to the match the Crew unveiled "Championship Row" signage on the fašade of the right upper deck stands to signify four significant milestones: winning the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Cup; the 2004 and '08 Supporters' Shields and last season's MLS Cup.

Once play started there was little action until the Crew's Eddie Gaven provided the game's first scoring opportunity in the sixth minute. He made a sharp cutback at the top right of the box, but his strike went over the bar.

De Rosario gave Toronto a jolt with a dribble down the right side in the 16th minute only to be forced deep before getting a bad-angle shot that was well off target.

After Schelotto's penalty kick put the home side in the lead, Columbus nearly made it 2-0 in the 37th when Eddie Gaven drilled a straight-on strike from 28 yards off the left post. The ball stayed in play and Schelotto's attempt was deflected back to Emmanuel Ekpo, who ran onto it and fired on goal but Frei made a stretching fingertip save to knock the shot out of bounds.

Frei fell hard after making the stop and was replaced Greg Sutton at the start of the second half.

Toronto went for the equalizer in the 42nd when Pablo Vitti found space in the final third. He got to within 25 yards before putting a low line toward goal where Hesmer had a clean look for the easy save, the only one of the half.

Sutton was tested in the 56th when he came off the line to stop Jason Garey. The Crew continued to apply pressure. Chad Marshall tested Sutton with header off a Schelotto service in the 59th and again a minute later, when the defender tried to get around the TFC 'keeper on the left side, but Sutton blocked the scoring attempt.

Toronto withstood the attack and had a chance in the 63rd minute on its first corner kick. Adrian Serioux headed De Rosario's cross only to see defender Jed Zayner take the ball in the chest before clearing it.

The Reds put on the pressure over the final minutes, finally breaking through thanks to Padula's assistance.

Toronto has its home opener April 4 vs. Seattle Sounders FC. The Crew play Thursday at Real Salt Lake and April 5 at Chivas USA.

Craig Merz is a contributor to MLSnet.com.

Toronto FC (1-0-1) vs. Columbus Crew (0-0-2) 
March 28, 2009 -- Columbus Crew Stadium 

Scoring Summary: 
CLB -- Guillermo Barros Schelotto 2 (penalty kick) 30
TOR -- Own Goal (Gino Padula) 84

Toronto FC -- Stefan Frei (Greg Sutton 46), Marvell Wynne, Adrian Serioux, Marco Velez, Jim Brennan, 
Dwayne De Rosario, Sam Cronin, Kevin Harmse, Rohan Ricketts (Johann Smith 62), 
Chad Barrett (Danny Dichio 68), Pablo Vitti, 

Substitutes Not Used: Brian Edwards, Gabe Gala, Emmanuel Gomez, Fuad Ibrahim

Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Jed Zayner, Chad Marshall, Danny O'Rourke, Gino Padula, Eddie Gaven, 
Brian Carroll, Emmanuel Ekpo, Alex Grendi (Cory Elenio 73), 
Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Steven Lenhart 76), Jason Garey.

Substitutes Not Used: Eric Brunner, Andy Gruenebaum, Andy Iro, Stanley Nyazamba, Robbie Rogers

 Columbus Crew Toronto FC 
total shots: 10 (Emmanuel Ekpo 4)  11 (Dwayne De Rosario 4)  
shots on goal: 5 (4 tied with 1)  2 (Pablo Vitti 1,  Danny Dichio 1)  
fouls: 13 (Jed Zayner 6)  10 (3 tied with 2)  
offsides: 1 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 1)  2 (Pablo Vitti 1,  Danny Dichio 1)  
corner kicks: 5 (Guillermo Barros Schelotto 5)  3 (Dwayne De Rosario 3)  
saves: 2 (William Hesmer 2)  3 (Greg Sutton 2)  

Misconduct Summary: 

referee: Michael Kennedy
Referee's Assistants: Sean Hurd; Peter Balciunas
4th official: Hilario Grajeda
time of game: 1:49
attendance: 14,686
weather: Cloudy -and- 61 degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial 

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