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The first time watching the 2008 MLS Cup Final

A new Crew fan story in these crazy times.

Chicago Fire FC v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

The 2008 MLS Cup is probably the most consequential game in Columbus Crew SC history. It is obviously the biggest piece of silverware the Crew has ever won, and it was a culmination in an unforgettable season that included a Supporters’ Shield, as well as a fantastically drama-filled MLS Cup playoff run.

There’s one only problem: as a relatively new Crew fan, I had never seen this game before. In fact, the first Black & Gold game I ever saw was probably two years after the 2008 season. And since becoming a more-involved Crew fan, I’ve familiarized myself with that 2008 MLS Cup-winning team — and how couldn’t you? — but I never actually watched a game from that season.

Of course I’m familiar with the team. Like I said, how could you not be familiar? And while I recognized the names and their greatness; I’d only ever seen a few highlights. I knew the outcome: Columbus brought the trophy home after beating another original MLS team in the New York Red Bulls. I’ve listened to the podcast “The Cup” (a great listen), which detailed the run and some of the stories involved. So I had a vague idea. But there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself.

So when the Crew announced the team would live streaming the match, and me being starved for live sports; I jumped at the opportunity to see this legendary Crew side in action for the first time. So I cracked open some Land Grant and journaled as I watched.

Pre Game:

  • Obviously Guillermo Barros Schelotto is the biggest name on the team, but there are quite a few other names I recognize.
  • JP Dellacamera, I love this guy. I can’t help but associate him with the Women’s World Cup. If this is anything like the last time I watched a soccer match with him announcing, the Crew will probably win 67-0.
  • Columbus is the heavy favorite, and with 57 points in the regular season. I can see why!
  • With all of these classic games being replayed recently, I always take for granted how long ago they actually were. We have come a long way in camera technology and television presentation since 2008.
  • There is obviously a Schelotto vs. Juan Pablo Angel storyline being set up here.

First half:

(3:20): Very aggressive offensive play. This team looks like they were a lot of fun to watch, between the high-flying offensive movement and a sturdy backline.

(3:26): Yellow card to New York defender Chris Leitch for what hockey would normally describe as a body check.

(5:20) Winger Dave Van den Bergh getting free downfield early, the Black & Gold have been able to recover and/or it has been offside, but he looks dangerous.

  • A moment for how surreal the notion is that soccer is being played on ABC; I cannot believe it.
  • Will Hesmer has been stout thus far.
  • Sideline reporter talking about Sigi Schmid’s contract negotiations and the possibility of the Seattle Sounders hiring him… I, unfortunately, know this story ends.

(9:30) More great goalkeeping by Hesmer on the second corner by New York.

  • The Red Bulls trying to drop the long ball, but other than that, not many viable offensive chances.

(12:50) As I write that, New York creates its best offensive chance of the game, John Wolyniec is just beaten to the ball by Hesmer from a long ball.

(13:30) Another strong chance for Wolyniec with a strong shot from outside the penalty box. Great save by Hesmer.

(14:30) RBNY is playing a fairly physical game. Alejandro Moreno gets clipped pretty good, but no call from the referee.

  • Wolyniec and Van den Bergh are creating a lot of offensives chances now.

(18:00) A Wide-open chance for the Red Bulls on a corner, but a miss-headed ball goes wide.

(19:00) The Crew seem to have let off the gas a bit offensively. The team was sniffing around the box early, but as of the last several minutes, New York has taken over.

  • The Nordecke sounds great at the Home Depot Center! They keep cutting to the Red Bull supporters group, but otherwise, I wouldn’t even know they were there.
  • I was hoping for some more dated music references in a promo for the American Music Awards. Beyonce is timeless! By the way, What Kayne West album would he be playing here? Google machine initiate: Oh wow, 808 and Heartbreak... what a time to be alive!
  • As of the playing of this game, JP Dellacamera hasn’t bought an iPod yet, iPod! I’m old!

(22:00) Dane Richards crosses to empty space, another missed opportunity in a good offensive chance for New York. If the Red Bulls were able to convert any chances, we would probably be looking at a 2-0 RBNY lead.

(22:30) Ginoo Padula goes down after what looks like a funky turn in open space, generally not the kind of injury that you walk off.

(25:30) Fantastic turn of play. Frankie Hejduk (fed by Schelotto) to Eddie Gaven, but great save by Danny Ceparo for the first real offensive chance for the Crew in what seems like 15 minutes.

(26:00) Padula back on the field, I’m wrong again!

  • Everyone on this broadcast loves saying the name Schelotto. They keep inventing extra syllables to over pronounce. By the time this game is over, his name is going to sound like some Olive Gardner-invented pasta dish: Guillermo Barros SchelottotinorinoTourOfItaly.
  • Columbus has done a fairly good job of containing Angel, which has probably opened up more opportunities for Van den Bergh and Wolyniec, but I haven’t heard his name as much.

(28:48) Another missed opportunity for New York. Richards sends it over the box after a great cross from defender Andrew Boyens.

(30:00) The Crew is holding the line with its fingernails here, playing flat since about 10 minutes in.

(30:25) Finally some offense! Moreno scoots one past after a quick counter attack. Schelotto saves the ball near out of bounds and feeds to Moreno who sends it just past the outstretched fingertips of Cepero. 1-0 good guys Is this the spark the Crew needs to turn it on?

(32:18) Already a little more pep in the Black & Gold’s step as Robbie Rogers makes a little noise near the box.

(34:15) Moreno gets free on the counter attack and more creative pressure forces the corner. Columbus is starting to make more noise.

(36:00) Boyens sends another effort well over the goal.

(36:30) Chad Marshall with a great long ball that Rogers almost converts. This is the Crew from the first 10 minutes.

  • Moreno has been a force this first half.

(38:30) “Yo si le voy….” ringing throughout The Home Depot Center!

(39:10) Angel’s playmaking on display as he gets free and brings the ball in the box. Danny O’Rourke contains, however.

(40:00) Van den Bergh from deep, just a bit over the top post.

(41:00) Marshall with another great long ball that Moreno can’t quite contain. Things have gotten a little loosey-goosey now.

(42:50) Schelotto blocks the long ball, and then is held when he tries to play to earn the free kick. No card despite his protestation.

(44:00) Moreno takes a shot from about 20 yard out that is narrowly saved by Cepero. Moreno is everywhere on the pitch right now.

Halftime: 1-0 Crew

Halftime thoughts: A fairly evenly-matched game so far. The Crew dominated the beginning and end of the half, but New York has definitely held its own. The Red Bulls are creating some pretty significant chances, but haven’t been able to finish effectively. I know Schelotto is the superstar of this team, but Moreno has really stood out to me. His presence defensively and his playmaking ability has been remarkable. When Hesmer has been tested, he’s stood up and has made some otherwise challenging saves look routine. Let’s finish this thing and bring the Cup to Columbus!

Second Half

  • Nordecke strong from the beginning. They have really made themselves known in this game.

(47:00) A free kick is punched out by Hesmer and leads to counter attack that Rogers just can’t quite finish.

(50:34) A little crack in the armor. Wolyniec taps one past Hesmer after some fancy footwork from Richards. This was the type of finishing the Red Bulls lacked in the first half. New York ties it up, 1-1.

(52:03) What a goal!!!!!! Marshall with a laser attached to the side of his head fires the Schelotto corner kick past Cepero. 2-1 Crew. What an answer! I can’t imagine watching this live at this point. I would have rocketed through the roof. The really escalated quickly!

  • I now understand how that goal is so legendary. New York could easily have converted that equalizer into some real momentum and the upset could’ve been on. By answering so quickly, and decisively, the Crew regained momentum and could choke out the rest of the game based on Hesmer’s ability to push back the Red Bulls’ chances.
  • I’m starting to really appreciate the playmaking ability of both No. 10’s. Neither has had many scoring chances thus far, but have been the field general in both side’s offensive chances.

(55:40) Schelotto corner cleared to a counter attack that leaves pressure on Hesmer, who stands up and keeps it 2-1.

(58:00) Padula down again, but seems to be able to continue.

  • Sigi Schmid has looked the definition of relaxed this game. You get the feeling, knowing how this all ends between him and the Crew, that he has a strong Lou Brown in Major League energy to him. Maybe not quite so contentious, but focused entirely on his squad and maximizing his opportunity while he had it.

(65:00) VAR would have reversed that handball from incidental contact. Free kick goes well over Hesmer.

(67:50) Padula gets a yellow card after a hard challenge on Richards. The free kick is punched away from Hesmer.

  • We have hit a bit of a lull. Not a ton of viable offensive chances in the last 15 minutes. Both teams seem to be gearing up for the final 20 minutes. Columbus is hoping to just run out the clock.
  • Did the head ref just ask Padula and Richards to shake hands like they were two fighting siblings?!? Orange slices after the game boys!

(73:00) More great playing by GBS. Feeding it to Gaven, who just can’t complete.

  • Funny to hear the Monday Night Football promo for the fresh new quarterback Aaron Rodgers for Green Bay! “Seems odd to hear the Green Bay Packers without Brett Farve, who is now at the New York Jets.”

(76:30) A fantastic run by Moreno to feed Schelotto who rings one off the top bar from downtown.

(79:00) IS THAT MASSIVE REPORT’S OWN PAT MURPHY JUMPING UP AND DOWN AND CHEERING?!?!?!?!?!?!

(81:00) Well, that is one of the prettiest goals I’ve ever seen! THAT flick in from GBS and the header from Hejduk. What a goal! Schelotto pops that up like he’s in quarantine and it’s a roll of toilet paper!

  • The Nordecke taking victory laps now... really well done! They have represented Columbus fantastically!
  • That offensive chance in the second minute of stoppage time epitomizes the New York offensive chance. Such tremendous buildup, but inability to finish effectively. Really the story for them this match.
  • The Red Bulls needs to buy Moreno dinner after this game. They are all over him.

(90:00 +) That will do it... The Columbus Crew are champions!

-And now for some awkward silence while the Columbus Crew receive their medals...JP Dellacamera was not paid for post game apparently.

-”...Columbus Crew, and their captain Guillermo Barros Schelotto”!?!?!?! Don Garber, stepping in it since well before 2008!

Final Thoughts:

  • I’ve said this a couple of times, but Moreno really popped off the screen to me. If Schelotto was the brains behind the operation (and he definitely was), Moreno was the engine!
  • This is an all early-2000’s hair cut all-star game. Some very unique choices to say the least.
  • This game really made me jealous of those who supported the Crew that season. They looked like a true joy. Not just skilled and successful, but downright fun to watch with some great personalities. It is easy to understand why so many of this side still holds such a special spot in club lore.
  • I miss, I mean REALLY miss live sports!