Crew caps historic dream season with storybook ending in MLS Cup 2008
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The 2008 edition of the Columbus Crew earned its first-ever MLS Cup Championship last Sunday, Nov. 23, defeating the New York Red Bulls, 3-1, in front of a crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The club returned to Columbus late Monday night and was warmly greeted by Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, and an enthusiastic throng of hundreds Crew fans anxious to welcome champions back to central Ohio. On Tuesday, Gov. Ted Strickland welcomed the team to the Ohio Statehouse for a public celebration on the Capitol's West Plaza.
In Sunday's historic title game, Crew forward Alejandro Moreno opened the scoring in the 31st minute, when he took a pass from Guillermo Barros Schelotto down the right sideline and slotted a tight-angled shot past Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero. It was Moreno's first career playoff goal and 10th of the season, when added to his team-leading nine during the regular season. New York equalized early in the second half thanks to John Wolyniec, but Chad Marshall's header from a Schelotto corner kick restored the Crew's lead just 87 seconds later. Schelotto then earned his MLS Cup record third assist in the 82nd minute, with a precise, chipped pass over the Red Bulls defense, allowing Frankie Hejduk to cap the scoring with a game-sealing header. Schelotto, who also matched a league record for playoff assists in a season with six, was named the game's MVP for his scintillating performance and is the focus of a feature in the current issue of Sports Illustrated.
The 2008 season was a banner year for the Black & Gold as it captured its first-ever MLS Cup, while also winning the MLS Supporters' Shield for the second time in club history (2004), becoming the first club to capture the MLS "Double" since the 2002 Los Angeles Galaxy. The 2008 Crew set a new club record for points in a season (57), eclipsing the 2004 Supporters' Shield-winning squad that earned 49, while also setting new club marks for wins (17) and goals (50) in the post-shootout era (since 2000).
In addition to its numerous team accolades, the Crew also featured several MLS individual award winners, headlined by 2008 MLS Most Valuable Player Guillermo Barros Schelotto. Schelotto collected seven goals and 19 assists in 27 games during a prolific 2008 regular season, leading the league in assists by a wide margin. He also set a new Crew record for most assists in a season, eclipsing John Wilmar Perez's 15 in 2001, and finished the season tied for second in MLS history for assists in a season. Five of his assists led to game-winners and his extraordinary performances were recognized with four regular-season MLS Player of the Week selections, MLS Player of the Month honors for August and inclusion on the MLS inactive All-Star roster. His 19 assists this season are the most for an individual in MLS since the 2002 season when Steve Ralston also totaled 19.
Crew head coach Sigi Schmid was also honored as the MLS Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, after previously receiving the award in 1999 with the L.A. Galaxy, joining current U.S. Men's National Team head coach Bob Bradley (1998, 2006) in that exclusive club. He also became the second coach in club history to win the prestigious accolade, joining Greg Andrulis (2004), and the first to win MLS Cup titles with two different teams (L.A. 2002). The Crew's three playoff victories extended his all-time league record in that category to 19.
Chad Marshall earned MLS Defender of the Year honors, becoming the second player in Crew history to win the prestigious league award, joining only Robin Fraser who won it after Marshall's rookie season of 2004 when the two played alongside one another. A big, athletic defender, Marshall consistently frustrated the efforts of the opposition's attack in 2008 - thanks to his aerial dominance and well-timed tackles - while only earning two yellow card cautions all season. The 2008 season also saw Marshall utilize his size and leaping ability to get on the end of set pieces, as he has registered a career-high six goals (four of which were game-winners) in the regular season and playoffs, giving the Crew another dangerous offensive weapon.
BLACK & GOLD'S DIVERSE ATTACK ONCE AGAIN EVIDENT IN PLAYOFFS
The Crew's eight goals in the 2008 MLS Cup Playoffs came from seven different players, as the club continued to display a diverse offensive attack. The Crew boasts six players that scored at least five goals in the regular season and playoffs combined, and in total, the Black & Gold got goals from 14 different players this season, while 10 players scored at least two goals, eight scored at least three, five scored at least six and seven scored at least four.
HESMER NOTCHES MEMORABLE BIRTHDAY VICTORY SUNDAY
Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer had an extra special day at the MLS Cup last Sunday, as he spent his 27th birthday in goal for the Crew at the Home Depot Center. The 2008 MLS Cup served as a great birthday present and season-ending accomplishment for the Crew goalkeeper that experienced a breakout season in 2008 and finished as a finalist for the 2008 MLS Panasonic Goalkeeper of the Year award. Hesmer finished the regular season tied for first place in MLS in shutouts and added another clean sheet in postseason play vs. Kansas City on Nov. 8. Hesmer also finished the regular season with the league lead in wins (17) and finished third in goals-against-average (1.14) and saves percentage (73.5).
HENDRICKSON, MORENO EACH WIN THIRD MLS CUP CHAMPIONSHIP WITH THIRD DIFFERENT TEAM
With the Crew's 3-1 victory over New York last Sunday (Nov. 23) forward Alejandro Moreno and defender Ezra Hendrickson both earned their third MLS Cup title, each of which have come with a different team. In addition, midfielder Brian Carroll earned his second MLS Cup championship with as many teams (2004 - D.C. United). Moreno had previously won titles with L.A. in 2002 and Houston in 2006, while Hendrickson had previously notched MLS Cup wins with Moreno and L.A. in 2002 and Carroll and D.C. in 2004.
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