The Columbus Crew has landed in the team’s fifth championship game in club history after getting past the New England Revolution 1-0 on Sunday. MAPFRE Stadium will host the MLS Cup Final on Saturday evening, Dec. 12. Columbus awaits either the Seattle Sounders or Minnesota United, who play the Western Conference Final on Monday evening.
This is not the first chance the Crew has had to win a major trophy over the team’s 25-year history. Massive Report takes a look back at the previous championship game performances from the Black & Gold.
1998 - U.S. Open Cup
The Crew went to the team’s first Cup final in the third season in its history. The Black & Gold controversially had to play MLS expansion side Chicago Fire at Soldier Field after the game was moved from Virginia to the Fire’s home stadium due to a hurricane. Jerzy Podbrozny opened the scoring for the Fire with a penalty kick in the 45th minute and Stern John tied the game in the 53rd minute for the Crew. The game went to extra time where Frank Klopas put the finish things off in the 98th minute and pushed the Fire to the Open Cup title.
2002 - U.S. Open Cup
It has been close but no cigar for the Crew early in the team’s history. In addition to losing the 1998 Open Cup Final, Columbus missed out on trips to MLS Cup repeatedly as D.C. United stood in the way in 1997, 1998 and 1999. Columbus returned to the Open Cup Final in 2002, defeating the Richmond Kickers, the New York MetroStars (as the Red Bulls were previously known) and the Kansas City Wizards en route to the final hosted at MAPFRE Stadium on a chilly October evening.
In front of a sparse crowd, the Black & Gold faced off against an LA Galaxy team that had just won the MLS Cup three days prior after winning the Supporters’ Shield during the 2002 season. The Crew was in form as well but well-rested after getting knocked out of the MLS Playoffs by the New England Revolution in the Eastern Conference Final earlier in the month.
Columbus, playing at home, played a strong game, built off of quick attacks through forwards Brian McBride and Jeff Cunningham. But it was midfielder Freddy García who broke open the scoring in the 30th minute. The Galaxy poured numbers forward, recording 19 shots, but couldn’t find an equalizer. The Crew was reduced to 10 men as defender Chad McCarty received a second yellow card in the 83rd minute, but was able to see the game out and pick up the team’s first trophy.
2008 - MLS Cup
The season of legend. The Crew had the best record in the league and powered through the Eastern Conference, defeating Sporting Kansas City in a two-game series in the playoffs and then outlasting the Chicago Fire to head West, as the Cup final was held in the Los Angeles Galaxy’s home stadium.
Facing off against the worst team in the playoff field, the New York Red Bulls, who due to old MLS rules were in the Western Conference playoffs despite being an Eastern Conference team, Columbus survived an up-and-down start to open the scoring in the 31st minute behind an Alejandro Moreno strike. The Crew responded to a post halftime John Wolyniec score with a Chad Marshall header in the 53rd minute and captain Frankie Hejduk capped off a Guillermo Barros Schelotto masterclass pass with a 82nd minute goal.
The Black & Gold hoisted the MLS Cup on the back of a dominant 3-1 win in front of “Nordecke West”, the supporters who traveled cross-country to watch the team cap an outstanding season.
2010 - U.S. Open Cup
The late decade Columbus run was coming to an end by 2010, but there was a little cup magic left in the final Crew seasons for Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Frankie Hejduk and Gino Padula. The Black & Gold bested the Rochester Rhinos, Charleston Battery and D.C. United to reach to the final, held at the Seattle Sounders home stadium. The Sounders rode the home-field advantage to a 2-1 win.
Columbus was able to grab an early lead against the run of play as Kevin Burns took a one-time shot from the top of the penalty box and guided it past Kasey Keller to give the Crew the 1-0 lead in the 24th minute. Sanna Nyassi’s one-touch shot from 18 yards out tied the game in the 38th minute. Nyassi gave Seattle the lead in the 66th minute, hammering home a Steve Zakuani header that caromed off the crossbar.
2015 - MLS Cup
MAPFRE Stadium hosted its second final as the Crew climbed the Eastern Conference table to finish second behind the Red Bulls and recorded the fourth-best record in MLS, winning the tiebreaker with the Portland Timbers on goal differential. The Crew outlasted the Montreal Impact in an epic extra time tilt, then blitzed New York on 2-1 on aggregate to reach the MLS Cup Final.
The Timbers, under head coach Caleb Porter, won the Western Conference and was riding a hot streak coming into the Final. With 2,000 Timbers Army fans in attendance, the visitors came out to a shock lead after Diego Valeri blocked a Steve Clark clearance and it bounded into the Crew goal just 31 seconds into the game. The Sounders extended the lead when Rodney Wallace headed home a cross in the seventh minute, a counter attack that began with the ball out of bounds, but unseen by the assistant referee.
Columbus responded with an 18th-minute goal after Kei Kamara poked home an Adam Kwarasey mistake. Columbus wouldn’t be able to find a way to equalize as the visiting Timbers were quite at ease defending with the lead.
How will the Crew do in this championship game? We’ll find out next Saturday at 8 p.m. ET at MAPFRE Stadium.