When we last saw San Jose, the Earthquakes were having their 21-game home unbeaten streaked snapped by a Lee Nguyen stoppage time counter. And when we last saw Columbus, Michael Bradley and Toronto FC were scraping the first blemish into the Crew’s perfect start. Ahead of today’s meeting at Buck Shaw Stadium, both teams were in need of a rebound.
Despite the 1-1 result, that’s exactly what each team got, with 90 minutes in Santa Clara leaving what appear to be two quality teams deadlocked. Columbus, unable to sustain its desired control of the game, went up before halftime through Federico Higuaín, a goal that was pulled back after intermission by Chris Wondolowski. After a Goonie-free final 39 minutes, the teams were left on even footing, a fair result from a match that saw each side try 20 shots.
Despite that prolific total, the game was relatively free of clear cut chances, with the times combing for only eight shots on target. Columbus’s best came on Higuaín’s score, with a ball played in from the left finding Higuaín near the spot. San Jose’s goal came from a corner kick, with Shea Salinas finding an unmarked Wondolowski just outside Steve Clark’s six-yard box.
For San Jose, the performance can be seen as encouraging, particularly after the New England loss. But the result also prolongs opening run where the team’s fail to crack the win column. Though their opening schedule has been difficult — with two Champions League matches against Toluca complicating meetings with Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, and East-leading Columbus — the Earthquakes’ only loss of the season came in its easiest game.
Had Mark Watson’s team taken care of business against New England, we’d be wondering how close the team is to its 2012 self. A loss to the Revs, however, forces us to ask whether the Earthquakes winless stretch is a better indicator of their quality.
For Columbus, there’s nothing but positives to take from the performance. Okay, that’s not entirely true, since I’m sure Gregg Berhalter would have liked his team to mark better on Salinas’s second half corner. But I’m also sure the new Crew boss will keep this result in perspective. A point at Buck Shaw is a good one.
Through five games, Columbus is now 3-1-1 and sit alone atop the Eastern Conference. Against a team that took Toluca to penalty kicks in CONCACAF Champions League, the Crew snared a point, scoring first while doing so. If that can’t be met with a sense of accomplishment, expectations for Columbus have grown too quickly.
Sunday’s result may have only gotten one point from a winless side, but the bigger picture says it’s a valuable one. Columbus’s strong start continues.