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Crew Runs Unbeaten Streak To 18 And Wins Supporters' Shield After 1-1 Tie At Colorado

October 17, 2004 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Columbus Crew SC News Release

DENVER, Colorado - (Saturday, October 16) – The Columbus Crew put the finishing touches on one of the finest seasons in Major League Soccer history by extending their league-record unbeaten streak to 18 games and clinching the Supporters' Shield for the first time in club history with a 1-1 draw against the Colorado Rapids on Saturday night in Denver. Columbus also extended its MLS-record road unbeaten streak to nine games.

The Supporters’ Shield goes to the club that ends the regular season with the best overall record. The Crew and Kansas City each ended the season with 49 points but Columbus captured the top overall mark based on the third tiebreaker. The first tiebreaker was head-to head which was 1-1-1 between the Wizards and Crew. Tiebreaker No. 2 was goal differential for the whole season which also ended in a tie at +8. The Crew won the third tiebreaker which was total goals for the year, outscoring K.C. 40-38.

The Crew will now face New England in the Eastern Conference Semifinals beginning on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 7:30 p.m. at Gillette Stadium. The conference semifinals are two-game, home-and-home, total-goal series. Game Two is on Sunday, Oct. 31, at 5 p.m. at Crew Stadium. If the teams are tied in total goals at the end of Game Two, a 30-minute overtime period will be played. The overtime period is not sudden-death, with the teams going to penalty kicks if still tied at the end of the overtime.

The goals came on either side of halftime, Duncan Oughton giving the Crew a 40th-minute lead and the Rapids leveling the match through a Chris Henderson penalty kick two minutes after the halftime break.

Both teams appeared to be revving up for the playoffs from the start as a tightly contested affair in midfield was punctuated by frequent fouls from both teams. By the end of the night, referee Michael Kennedy whistled 39 fouls in the match.

The Rapids were dangerous early, with their best chance coming in the 14th minute as Alberto Delgado was sprung free on the right side, but his shot from the right was deflected on its way to goal. The Crew was then saved by Jon Busch's stellar goalkeeping in the 18th minute as he punched out a strong Chris Henderson shot from close range.

After the Crew had just missed from Chad Marshall on a set piece header earlier, another Crew chance off of a free kick came in the 27th minute. Simon Elliott's free kick looked perfectly placed for Buddle, but goalie Joe Cannon was quick off of his line to punch away the ball. Cannon came up huge for the Rapids again in the 28th minute, going low to stuff Buddle's breakaway shot.

Then in the 40th minute, Buddle started the sequence that led to the Crew's goal, finding Danny Szetela wide open and streaking down the right flank. Szetela's one-time cross just missed a diving Kyle Martino, but it fell directly to Oughton, who one-timed it low into the near side-netting. The assist was the first point of the 17-year-old Szetela's MLS career.

But just after the start of the second half, Alberto Delgado took advantage of a poor Robin Fraser touch to dribble into the box where he was tripped up by The Crew's Tony Sanneh at the top of the area and referee Kennedy pointed to the spot for a penalty kick. Henderson's shot was struck hard to the right, beating Jon Busch, who guessed wrong and dived left.

The Rapids almost scored again in the 49th minute. Kyle Beckerman's hard shot was fumbled by Busch, but Delgado was unable to push the rebound goalward. Beckerman then later had another good effort at goal, but his hard shot by was directed straight at Busch.

Dante Washington made his return to the league, coming on for Sanneh in the 70th minute, and he and Szetela nearly combined for a Crew goal with a quarter-hour left. Szetela's hard shot from the top of the box was blocked by Cannon, who then had trouble holding on to the ball. Washington stormed in to attempt to jam the ball into the net, but a defender was able to clear the loose ball out of danger.

The final 15 minutes saw little in the way of attacking action, each team seeing one player booked by Kennedy as the playoff intensity started to kick in.

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