Too alive Crew

GARETH WHEELER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:06 AM ET

Columbus is used to national football championships with Ohio State, but now it has a football championship of another kind.

In a match featuring two of Major League Soccer's original teams, the boys from the Buckeye State, the Columbus Crew, collected a well-deserved 3-1 victory over the underdog New York Red Bulls in Carson, Calif., yesterday. It was the Crew's first MLS Cup in franchise history.

They opened the scoring in the 31st minute with a soft goal from Alejandro Moreno.

After a 40-yard run down the right side of the pitch, Moreno beat Red Bulls goalkeeper Danny Cepero from a bad angle. It was a calm and cool finish by Moreno, but clearly Cepero played the angle all wrong.

Hardly top-class goaltending, but the kind you might expect when you pay your 'keeper only $248 a week.

Coming out of nowhere to take over in net for the Red Bulls just six weeks ago, Cepero's story resonates but he was outclassed this day.

The Red Bulls equalized in the 51st minute when a well-placed through ball by Dane Richards was tapped in by John Wolyniec.

The Red Bulls' momentum was short lived.

Less than two minutes later, MLS defender of the year Chad Marshall showed his offensive prowess, connecting with league MVP Guillermo Barros Scheletto's corner, heading home the second goal of the game, and Marshall's second goal in as many matches.

The game was settled in the 82nd minute with Scheletto's third, and most impressive assist of the game, when he chipped over a stagnant Red Bulls back line and found team captain Frankie Hejduk, who headed home to ensure the MLS Cup would go to the regular season's top side.

"We played a very good second half," Schelotto said. "The first half was a bit more difficult. We were lucky to get that second goal. After that, we were much better than the other team."

With the league's MVP, defender of the year, and coach of the year (Sigi Schmid), things could not have been scripted any better for Columbus on the field. Off the field, it was a different story.

The Crew averaged only 14,622 fans per game in 2008, down almost 4% from 2007. Attendance reached an embarrassing low April 12, with an announced attendance of 6,733 on hand for a 4-3 win over Chivas USA.

And after a massive marketing blitz, the Crew still only drew 14,688 for the Eastern Conference final against the Chicago Fire.

The dwindling numbers in Columbus have left many to wonder whether the city can support a team in the long run.

Rumours of a possible relocation to Las Vegas clouded over the second half of the Crew's season.


Videos

Photos