FOXBOROUGH, Mass. Pat Phelan and Shalrie Joseph both scored their second goals of the season to stake the New England Revolution a 2-0 lead, but second-half goals from Steven Lenhart and Guillermo Barros Schelotto pulled the visitors level as the Revs and Columbus Crew battled to a 2-2 draw on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium.
It was the second straight game in which the Revs (7-14-5, 26 pts.) saw a two-goal lead slip away in the second half, as FC Dallas similarly erased a 2-0 deficit on Wednesday night at Pizza Hut Park en route to a 2-2 draw. The draw did keep the Revolution mathematically alive in the postseason race, while it also prevented Columbus (13-7-6, 45 pts.) from clinching a playoff spot until at least next weekend.
Phelan scored the Revolutions earliest goal of the season in the second minute to give the hosts an instant lead, while Joseph converted New Englands first penalty kick of 2010 in the 56th minute to make it 2-0. Lenhart bundled home a header in the 62nd minute to cut the deficit in half, however, and Schelotto slotted home a penalty kick in the 80th minute to provide the final score line.
There was one change to the Revolution side which took the field Wednesday night in Dallas, as Chris Tierney (L knee soreness) was a late scratch from the starting lineup, meaning Seth Sinovic took over at left back.
Joseph gave the Revs a fifth-minute lead in that midweek draw in Dallas, but Phelan one-upped the captain by putting the hosts ahead in the second minute on Saturday night. Marko Perovic was the provider, delivering a curling free kick from the left wing toward the near post. Phelan eluded his marker and cut across the box before sliding into an acrobatic finish with the outside of his right foot.
Columbus responded well and almost leveled the score in the seventh minute when Eddie Gaven burst into right side of the box, but the Crew midfielder dragged his shot wide of the left post. Gaven was involved again 10 minutes later when he delivered a left-wing cross for Lenhart, but the powerful forwards first-time shot was straight at Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Kenny Mansally had a pair of half-chances at the other end of the field in the 30th and 31st minutes as the Revs began to work themselves back into the game, but both of his long-distance shots bounced wide without troubling Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer.
The Crew went close again in the 41st minute when Phelan accidentally sent a glancing header toward his own goal from Schelottos free kick, but Reis was alert and made a fantastic leaping save to tip the ball over the bar and maintain the Revolutions 1-0 advantage into the halftime break.
It didnt take long for New England to double its lead after the interval, as Joseph buried the Revolutions first penalty kick of the season to make it 2-0 in the 56th minute. Ilija Stolica drew the foul when he was chopped down by Andy Iro following a scramble in the box, and Joseph made no mistake from the spot as he drilled his effort into the upper left corner.
Columbus responded to cut the deficit in half just six minutes later, however, when Lenhart and Cory Gibbs challenged for Shaun Francis bouncing left-wing cross at the near post. Lenhart provided the decisive touch with an opportunistic header as the ball beat Reis inside the near post.
Schelotto then made it 2-2 in the 80th minute with his team-leading eighth goal of the season, converting from the spot after Joseph was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box. The Argentine stepped up and drilled his effort into the right side of the net as Reis dove the wrong way.
After knotting the score, the Crew fell into a defensive shell in hopes of securing a valuable point on the road. When Perovics long-distance free kick in the 89th minute sailed harmlessly over the bar, the visitors did just that as they left Gillette Stadium with at least one point for the fifth straight time.
The Revs will return to action on Saturday, Oct. 2, when theyll host defending MLS Cup champion Real Salt Lake. Kickoff from Gillette Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m.
The draw between New England and Columbus moves the Revolutions all-time record against the Crew to 16-29-10 it was the first tie between the two clubs since an 3-3 draw at Gillette Stadium on June 17, 2007.
The Revolution has settled for a 2-2 draw after holding a 2-0 lead in consecutive matches.
Pat Phelans second-minute goal off a direct kick from Marko Perovic was the Revolutions fastest tally of the season it beat New Englands previous mark by three minutes, in Dallas on Wednesday.
For Phelan, it was his second goal of the season and his career he scored his first goal against D.C. on Aug. 7, also on a free kick.
Marko Perovic picked up his second assist of 2010 on the second-minute tally from a set piece.
Shalrie Joseph scored the Revs first penalty kick goal of the season in the 56th minute of the 26th match of the season it was also New Englands first penalty kick attempt of the year.
Josephs two goals this season have now come in consecutive games.
The second-minute goal from Phelan was New Englands fourth goal of the year from a free kick.
Chris Tierney was a late scratch at left back with left knee soreness Tierney missed only his third game of the year and was replaced by Seth Sinovic.
When Khano Smith came on for Ilija Stolica in the 70th minute, Kenny Mansally shifted from left midfield up to forward, while Smith took Mansallys spot.
Zack Schilawski came on for Seth Sinovic in the 87th minute, New England shifted into a 3-5-2 the back line consisted of Gibbs, Barnes and Osei, with Smith, Phelan, Joseph, Schilawski and Mansally in the midfield, with Perovic and Mansally up top.
The Revolution has played to a draw in consecutive matches for the first time all season.