Download 2008 MLS Cup Championship Game: Columbus Crew
CARSON, Calif. — After 13 years of disappointment and failure, after an improbable run to the championship game and after imposing their will, but not exacting a goal, the Red Bulls left the Home Depot Center crushed, but with heads held high Sunday.
“I thought we were the better team in the first half,” Red Bulls Coach Juan Carlos Osorio said after the Columbus Crew scored two second-half goals to defeat the Red Bulls, 3-1, and win the M.L.S. Cup for the first time. “We should have done better in the first half. We played with pride and passion, and that’s the only thing I ask for.”
The Red Bulls dominated possession for much of the first 45 minutes, but they failed to score against Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer despite several good opportunities.
In the 14th minute, Dane Richards rolled a pass to John Wolyniec, whose shot from the top of the penalty area sailed high. Two minutes later, Chris Leitch found Juan Pablo Ángel with a long right-to-left diagonal pass. Ángel put a glancing header into the path of Dave van den Bergh, whose cross from the left flank was not controlled by Wolyniec at the far post.
Columbus broke through in the 31st minute when van den Bergh miscalculated along the near touchline. He shielded the ball from the Crew’s Eddie Gaven, waiting for it to roll out.
But Guillermo Barros Schelotto swooped in, pulled the ball back and sent Alejandro Moreno down the right wing with a lead pass. Moreno, just inside the penalty area on the right side, slid a soft-footed shot that beat Danny Cepero and glanced off the far post and into the net.
Schelotto, the regular-season most valuable player, was named the man of the match after he assisted on all of the Crew’s goals.
“I thought the ball was out,” van den Bergh said. “And by the time I turned around to argue, the referee was pointing to the center spot.”Photo
Cepero appeared to have overcommitted to the near post, leaving Moreno enough daylight to slot the ball in.
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“I tipped the ball and should have done better,” Cepero said. “It’s something that is going to bother me. My first worry was leaving a rebound. If I make the save, it’s a different game.”
The Red Bulls tied the score six minutes into the second half, when Richards, the speedy Red Bulls midfielder, slipped past defenders Gino Padula and Brad Evans at the top of the penalty area. Richards rolled a soft right-footed pass into Wolyniec’s path. Wolyniec one-touched it with his left instep and sent the ball past Hesmer from the top of the 6-yard box.
The Red Bulls’ celebration lasted less than three minutes.
The defense conceded a corner kick, and Columbus defender Chad Marshall lost his marker and ran into Schelotto’s floating corner kick, heading it past Cepero in the 53rd minute.
“We conceded a bad corner kick,” Osorio said. “All season long we have emphasized not conceding a goal in the five minutes after we score. We knew that Schelotto is the most effective player in this league on set plays.”
The Crew’s go-ahead goal seemed to deflate the Red Bulls, who had finished the regular season with a 10-11-9 record but eliminated the two-time defending champion Houston Dynamo and then Real Salt Lake to advance to the first championship game in club history. By contrast, the Crew had the best record (17-7-6) and the most points (57) during the regular season.
“It was really hard for us after that second goal,” Ángel said. “We did not see much of the ball, and John and I were isolated on the field out on the right. After the equalizer, I thought we were going to get something out of the game. But that goal knocked us down.”
Ángel, the team’s leading scorer this season with 14 goals and its most dangerous player throughout the playoffs, seemed to be a step slower and rarely found himself with the ball in a threatening position.
Despite rolling his ankle early last week and injuring his ribs and left wrist in a collision with Cepero during training for the title game, he said he was fit to play. “I’m really proud of what we achieved this year, after all the problems and all the new players,” Ángel said. “It doesn’t mean I’m happy that we lost, but we lost to the best team.”
A picture caption in some editions on Monday with a summary of an article about the Columbus Crew’s Major League Soccer championship, using information provided by Getty Images, misidentified the player shown celebrating. He is Gino Padula, not his teammate Frankie Hejduk.
A version of this article appears in print on , on page D2 of the New York edition with the headline: Red Bulls Squander Chances as Crew Wins M.L.S. Cup.