Sunday, November 23, 2008

MLS Cup Liveblog: NY Red Bulls v. Columbus Crew

Well, we're finally here. The jewel in the MLS crown, but will it shine?

No-one expected or wanted the Red Bulls there, but they're ready to play, improbable, impossible. I wonder if the continued success of teams not named LA Galaxy is something that keeps Don Garber awake at night.

Columbus. New York. Let's do this.


Columbus Crew: Hesmer; Frankie "Jesus" Hejduk, Padula, Marshall, O'Rourke; Carroll, Gaven, Evans, Rogers; Moreno, Guillermo Most Valuable Schelotto.

NY Red Bulls: Cepero; Leitch, Mendes, Goldthwait, Jimenez; Van den Bergh, Richards, Ubiparipovic, Sassano; Angel, Wolyniec.

Pregame: I am already nauseous thanks to the ungodly amount of alcohol I consumed yesterday, not to mention the goallessness from LFC yesterday that had me overdosing on antacids. Thankfully, MLS and ABC have rewarded my already weak countenance with the tandem of Foudy and Alexei. Despite how funny that Red Bull vid was on Friday, I still can't stand him. It promises to be a long day.

So, thoughts? Scoreline predictions? I'm thinking 2-1 Columbus.

No Spurs talk, please. We're about to watch a real game of football.
Before I begin (or rather, before ABC finishes their tepid preamble), I'll throw a couple of things out there:
1. The new Kanye album is good.
2. If Beckham never came back to MLS, they'd be so much better off. All that money could be spread around a bit. Would be nice.
3. Don't ever drink Rittenhouse Rye. EVER. I consumed a lot of it, and now I want to die. PLEASE don't let this liveblog be the death of me.
As expected, the Red Bull shotgunning wasn't very good. Foudy wouldn't drink it because it might induce labor; shit, it'd do much, much worse damage to your unborn. Maybe a third arm or nipple.
Subs for both teams. Could the match-winner come from one of this lot?

Columbus Crew: Gruenebaum, Iro, Noonan, Miglioranzi, Ekpo, Hendrickson, Lenhart.

NY Red Bulls: Patterson-Sewell, Magee, Rojas, Cichero, Pietravallo, Boyens, Kandji.

Ready for kick-off. I just threw up a little in my mouth (unrelated observation).
Harkes is commentating. This makes the pain much, much worse. The more I read match previews, the more I wonder if this will be a rout. Fuck it, Columbus will score 4 today.
1 min: And we're off! The second kick of the game ends up floating out for a throw-in. Excellent start!
As JP points out, some will root for the best team in MLS, while some will root for the underdog. Fair point; I also reckon a few are rooting for the audio feed to cut out. Long ball down the right that Gaven chases, forcing Cepero out of his box to clear.

3 mins: Looks like a clear strategy already for Columbus: pump the ball down the wings and get round the back. Long ball from Van den Bergh to Angel, although Juan Pablo was offside. I reckon that'll happen 1,000,000 times to Angel today.

Nasty tackle by Chris Leitch, attempting to mangle Robbie Rogers on the left. Ref immediately issues a yellow card, and ABC show a graphic that today's wanker in black, Baldomero Toledo, has given out the most yellow and red cards this season. Not a stat that bodes well for the flow and pace of today's game.

6 mins: Nice work by Ubiparipovic releases Van den Bergh and his awkward running style down the left wing. He runs in a straight line, arms flapping, into space, but his cross was woefully Pennant-esque. Still, Evans heads it out for a corner from which nothing amounts.

8 mins: Both teams struggling to assert themselves early. All the action's on Van den Bergh's wing so far.
As Harkes noted, Schmidt's scarf is a rather nice flourish atop his 60s beat poet outfit. Ubiparipovic floats in a corner from the left that Hesmer leaps out to collect. I wonder if Heurelho is watching and taking notes on how to deal with corners (although to be fair, the lad did keep a clean sheet this morning).

11 mins: Wolyniec wrecks Hejduk from behind but no card. Strange! RBNY have started with a bit more bite.

13 mins: It's Van den Bergh's world, and we're all just living in it. He gets more space down the left and delivers a much better cross. Crew defender slips and it almost breaks for Wolyniec, although Hesmer is just a fraction quicker.

Then, the first real scoring chance: Richards cuts inside on his run and finds Wolyniec alone and 25 yards out. Wolyniec's shot is good but flashes over the bar. Then, Columbus get free on the break and Moreno gets scythed down when almost free on goal. No card, no free kick even.

16 mins: More Van den Bergh! Another free run down the left, and his cross ends up drifting dangerously at the far post. Ball gets knocked down but Hesmer is first to it. Not a bad game so far; both teams are showing some enterprise moving forward.

Holy shit, a Pedro Gomez sighting! Poor guy -- when Bonds disappeared from public view, Gomez disappeared from ESPN. So it goes; yet another reason to hate Bonds... he robbed us of the wide-eyed charm and salt-and-pepper hair of Mr. Gomez.

18 mins: Van den Bergh again! He sticks a corner right into the thick of the 6-yard box. Goldthwait gets a flick on it but it fizzes wide of the back post. Dangerous.

21 mins: More RBNY pressure. They've looked good so far; typical shit by Columbus. As soon as I throw my support behind an MLS team, they repay me by playing cautious, sloppy football.

22 mins: Richards is doing a great Van den Bergh impression at the moment, tearing down the right wing and delivering a decent cross that takes a deflection on its way back out. Close to a goal, certainly. They deserve a goal at this point, and honestly, so do we.

25 mins: Gino Padula is down with the dreaded self-injury, hurting his leg when he turned around. Defending the might of Juan Pablo is clearly hazardous to your health. He limps off the field for further review.

27 mins: A chance for Columbus! Good interplay on the edge of the box by Moreno and Schelotto breaks to Gaven, whose shot ends up comfortably in Cepero's gloves. They then repeat the play on the opposite side of the box. Decent efforts, but both right at Cepero. Bit easy for the keeper, really.

29 mins: Nice throughball for Angel right up the middle, but he doesn't have the pace to finish and O'Rourke recovers. Then Van den Bergh, continuing his epic performance thus far, cuts another sharp opening for Richards on the left. His cross is good, but Angel's half-volley ends up well over the bar.

31 mins: GOAL GOAL GOAL!!! Van den Bergh makes an error, and Columbus score on the break. VDB was complacent with the ball trickling out for a throw-in, allowing Schelotto to pick his pocket and keep the ball in play. Schelotto's pass down the right wing leaves Moreno with lots to do, but no matter; he runs at Jimenez, beats him on the outside and fires a low, sharp shot past Cepero and inside the far post. Cepero should have done better; the angle was tight enough already for Moreno from the edge of the box, but he still found the net. Excellent finish, and Schmidt is mobbed by grizzly people on the sideline. NY Red Bulls 0, Columbus Crew 1

36 mins: Columbus have some confidence now and are streaming forward with gusto. They win a couple of corners that Cepero deals with, and Marshall gives Rogers a chance to shoot moments later but it's blocked by Mendes and (I think) Richards. Dave Van den Bergh hasn't touched the ball since the goal. That might be the problem.

39 mins: It's modified long ball from Columbus! Simple, yet effective. Marshall and Rogers are finding plenty of space but aren't causing Cepero any trouble. RBNY win a corner thanks to Angel's industriousness on the left, but to no avail.

The Crew fans are doing their modified White Stripes song. Wonderful. The aural assault coincides with another chance for RBNY: Van den Bergh gets some space to shoot but puts it well over.

Fat, middle-aged men LOVE facepaints a lot more than they might let on. Especially those rotund Crew fans. It's also nice to see them getting off-the-clock use from their hardhats. Hejduk tries to milk a foul on the wing but the linesman isn't buying it. Crew are pouring pressure down the right side now, as Jimenez clearly isn't up to the task of handling Hejduk, Moreno (saw how well it worked the first time, didn't we?), Rogers, Schelotto... heck, even Schmidt could beat him, I reckon.

Free kick from the right (thanks to a Jimenez foul, go figure) ends up in Cepero's hands.

44 mins: We're winding down to half-time, and both teams seem to be as well. Rather subdued since the goal. Angel's ball over the top gives Sassano something to run and chase, but Hesmer gathers. From the goal kick Moreno gets space thanks to Jimenez' rather lax defending and he tries for goal, forcing a diving save by Cepero. Not nearly as exciting as it sounds. Cepero did dive, but it was a lazy, almost slow-mo dive, the kind you'd pull when getting back into bed after a 4.30am trip to the bathroom.

HALF-TIME, Blessed half-time: NY Red Bulls 0, Columbus Crew 1. I'm off to the bathroom, because Julie Foudy's sure-to-be-awful halftime analysis can't follow me in there. Refuge is sweet.

53 mins: Shit... just got off the phone. What did I miss? Just two goals. Crap. Marshall's goal was excellent, and my pre-game score prediction looks horribly accurate.

The game is much more frantic now. This is a good thing; when the teams start rushing around like they're 8 years old playing on some team with a name like the Dolphins or the Pirates, this can only benefit us more than anything else. Naturally, Columbus are enjoying far more possession and time down near the RBNY penalty area.

Sorry guys. It wasn't the bathroom; I was on the phone.

56 mins: Richards shows a flash of brilliance, sprinting clear down the right and firing a shot right down Hesmer's throat. There was venom behind the effort, but right at the goalie. Easy, really.

58 mins: The game is bright again! Funny what a couple of goals in quick succession will do.

61 mins: Keith, you're dead right about the commentators. The fact that Harkes has taken it upon himself to literally describe anything in sight is really grating. Snide comments about the colour of the ref's shirt don't win you any friends, Mr. Harkes. Your voice is like poison.

63 mins: RBNY try the Rory Delap route, creating havoc with a long throw, but no such luck. They pour forward again, but a lofty, looping cross from the right (think it was Sassano?) drifts out for a goal kick. Bit rubbish, really.

All the play at the moment is in the middle third as both teams struggle to string more than a couple of passes together successfully. Figures that when I put the phone down, the game becomes much less compelling. Should I leave again?

Handball by Schelotto gives RBNY a free-kick about 35 yards out and central. What will they manage?

Answer? A long, driven shot that flies comfortably over the bar. Poor effort, especially when they looked to be organizing a set piece. All smoke and mirrors from RBNY.

68 mins: Dave Van den Bergh is now playing just like Dave Van den Bergh normally does, and it's a shame. Padula gets a yellow for rearranging Richards' achilles from behind. Free kick for RBNY wide on the right. Van den Bergh is ready to strike.

Decent inswinging cross from Van den Bergh, although Hesmer easily navigates a path to the ball to punch it clear. Subs a-plenty are warming up for both teams, which is more exciting than anything at this point. Are we experiencing one of those long lulls that Spectator and Precious Roy talked about in those comments below? Quite probably.

72 mins: Very disjointed play at the moment, not becoming of the MLS Cup. Perhaps having someone other than RBNY in the game might have helped? To be fair, Columbus have been rather tepid as well.

77 mins: Almost 3-1! A great run by Moreno down the left leaves the middle wide open, and he finds Schelotto with acres of room to shoot. He does, and it rattles the bar and out to safety.

I'm amazed there have been no subs yet for either side. You mean to tell me a set or two of fresh legs wouldn't improve this game?

79 mins: Of course, immediately my prayers are answered: Rojas on for RBNY, replacing Luke "Vidal" Sassano.

81 mins: Nothing of note. Marshall wastes a free-kick by putting it straight in Cepero's hands, and I lament that just when I came back, everyone in the comments left!

GOAL GOAL GOAL!!!! A scrappy build-up on the edge of the box breaks to Schelotto, who lofts a sublime pass over the top to Frankie Hejduk who continued his run. It lands right on Hejduk's head, and he dinks it over Cepero before beginning his celebrations. Brilliant goal, conjured by the MVP from absolutely nothing. NY Red Bulls 1, Columbus Crew 3

RBNY respond with another substitution: Kandji on, Wolyniec off.

86 mins: RBNY are trying to apply pressure, but they seem to have no idea how. They're too busy passing it around at the back to threaten.

Nice move forward by RBNY ends with Angel and Hejduk colliding in the box. Looked like a bit of a dive as Angel looks for a penalty.

88 mins: The game is trickling away, and RBNY can't be too disappointed by this comprehensive defeat. They should be thankful to get this far, but really, based on today's performance, they haven't shown nearly enough to warrant stealing the MLS Cup from the league's best team. If they were going to win, it was always going to be a smash-and-grab.

RBNY's efforts to find a goal seems to revolve around letting the Crew have all the possession. Gaven beats the offside trap down the right wing and canters towards goal, but Cepero deflects his speculative shot out for a corner. We've reached the 90-min mark, Schmidt prepares a couple of time-wasting subs with some redundant orders (how complex could it be? "Hey guys, 3 mins of stoppage time left, here's what you need to do to help protect our 2-goal lead").

Andy Iro on, Schelotto off for the curtain call. The crowd gives him exactly that. Only one or two shots for the MVP today, but we know it's his passing that gets him the accolades. Two assists today (I feel dirty talking about assists in soccer, it doesn't feel right) and a good, tidy performance.

90+2 mins: Leitch gets free down the right and finds Kandji, who lays it off for Ubiparipovic for a clean shot. He responds by blasting the ball into the side netting from 10 yards out. That could have made things interesting.

Columbus immediately hurry another important sub on: Steven Lenhart relieves Eddie Gaven. Seconds left.

THERE IT IS. Fulltime: NY Red Bulls 1, Columbus Crew 3. A deserved result. The celebrations begin, and I celebrate at home because now I can stop listening to John Harkes.

Thanks for joining the fun today; despite the lulls, this was a lot better than watching that Sunderland game this morning. Frankie Hejduk is very, very excited.


ü75 said...

Who to choose today? I like the fact that RBNY are Western Conference champions, but I also like Frankie Hejduk, still working his surfer persona in Columbus. It's tough, but I think I hate Columbus and its other teams enough to pull for RBNY.

Ah, crap. I'll just go neutral, and hope for a good game.

/Go fins

The Likely Lad said...

im reporting live from my couch. the jets are stomping right now and the bulls are next. cepero-- pride of LI!

The Likely Lad said...

oh and some other football club had a decent day...

ü75 said...

1-1 with some lame MLS-approved extra time. At least there's no 35 yard shootout anymore.

The NY Kid said...

I appreciate ABC not giving me this feed in HD. Are you serious?

ü75 said...

Alright, I've made up my mind. Dane Richards went to Clemson, therefore, I have to support him. Let's go Red Bulls!

The NY Kid said...

Dear Lord! Lille is up 2-0 on Marseille.

What? MLS? Never heard of it.

ü75 said...

But what about today's Best Buy only release of Chinese Democracy? How is that?

Spectator said...

LOL at Alexi Lalas shotgunning a Red Bull

ü75 said...

Hey, I don't have to watch the Fins anymore. Thanks, Chad!

The NY Kid said...

@u75 - Axl Rose's family still lives in West Lafayette, Indiana home of Purdue University.

That's all I got.

jjf3 said...

After witnessing them rip the Dynamo to shreds, I go with RBNY to win 2-0, with Cepero continuing his amazing run in goal.

Oh, and Blackburn might want to watch to see what its like when 11 guys play like they've actually been introduced to one another before the game began...

The NY Kid said...

seriously, ESPN/ABC/Disney put this on the big network and then don't broadcast in HD?

Fuck you, Mickey Mouse!

ü75 said...

Nice hit by Leitch.

Spectator said...

Just me or does the pitch at the Home Depot Center seem a little ragged? Like a 70s shag carpet or something.

Precious Roy said...

Go Crew. And ABC, stop putting Julie Foudy on my TV.


ü75 said...

I;m no longer watching the feed, just following it at the NFL site, but Miami has imploded in this 4th quarter. Thanks for giving me something else to watch ABC.

The NY Kid said...

Pedro Gomez with the performance-enhancing story. He really misses Barry Bonds.

Precious Roy said...

Nice shot.

The NY Kid said...

tough position for Cepero - you don't want to be beaten near-post, and he gets a hand on it to watch it barely go in

The NY Kid said...

and Schmidt is mobbed by grizzly people on the sideline

Weird, you would have thought the Red Bull would have more supporters in the bear community

Precious Roy said...

MLS Cup has caused our Technorati number to drop by 4.... Sadness.

The NY Kid said...

I noticed that, but since I could never figure out how it works I wasn't sure what caused it. Isn't it something to do with how often we get linked?

What we need is a pimping for votes in the Soccer Closer column tomorrow.

Spectator said...

MLS Cup has caused our Technorati number to drop by 4.... Sadness.

Hahaha... We regret nothing!

Okay, so, another complaint about MLS are the lulls are just really awful. EPL are 90+ minutes of intensity, but MLS are maybe 40, 45 tops....

Precious Roy said...

Yeah, the play through the midfield isn't nearly as, oh, elegant as it is in better leagues. There's action in the attacking third, but getting to it is sometimes a little messy.

Spectator said...

Frustrating because it's not like the defenses are all that great... in comparison, even a team like Stupid Fucking Bolton knows how to play out of danger and keep possession.

Also... Over/under on number of times that Lalas says "lady luck" before this is all over: 8.

Spectator said...

Hey LB, get yr ass off the toilet the second half has started!

ü75 said...

He may have given up.

ü75 said...

Dane Richards on the assist!

Keith said...

I'm getting really tired, in all American sports broadcasts, of announcers thinking they need to talk throughout the time the game is going on.

Sit back, let the game breathe, give us the important information, and you might have the space to make a legendary call when something awesome happens.

ü75 said...

NOw that is a nice finish. 2-1 Crew. LB's missing all the action.

Precious Roy said...

Keith... at least it's not Joe Buck.

Spectator said...

I have a feeling there's a lot of action at the moment for LB, it's just all taking place in the can.

Spectator said...

And I guess that's why Scheletto was MVP of MLS!

ü75 said...

Hey Dude does it. Good for him.

ü75 said...

I wanna say this about Cepero. I haven't seen too much of him, but I thought he was very lucky not to give up a couple in the second half against RSL. I think this is more like it for his positioning and play overall.

Spectator said...

So, my take on the commentators is that Harkes is as annoying as ever, but I have no complaints about Dellacamera.

Precious Roy said...

Don't like Harkes. JP could talk about 1/2 as much as do fine.

Precious Roy said...

Woot. Your MLS Champion Columbus Crew.

/Don't even know why I was pulling for the Crew.

Spectator said...

Awesome, Pedro Gomes just asked Schelotto a question in Spanish and then translated.

Spectator said...

Hahaha... Don Garber doesn't know who the captain of the Columbus Crew is.

Mike Georger said...

i had no idea this was today. good for columbus, now as soon as the crew and blue jackets move out west we will all be happier

markus babbel took over as stuttgart manager today, i guess the constant drubbings at the hands of my bayern squad in fifa really was the tipping point for their board

ü75 said...

@ Georger- Ugh. Using big teams in FIFA is like playing Doom on God Mode.

@Spectator- I missed it. Who did Garber try to give the trophy to? Schelotto?

Mike Georger said...

it was better when they made you start with a small club and get hired by a big one. but as i will probably only play four or five seasons over the course of a year it doesnt matter to me anymore

Spectator said...

@ü75: Yup, after awarding Schelotto the MVP, Garber says, "And now to accept the trophy, of course it's your captain, Guillermo Barros Schelotto!" The announcer and Hejduk step in. Just really awkward and pathetic.