- The Washington Times - Monday, November 24, 2008

CARSON, Calif. | Guillermo Barros Schelotto led Columbus to victory in the MLS Cup on Sunday, capping his MVP season with three assists in the Crew’s 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls.

Alejandro Moreno scored in the first half for Columbus, and after New York tied it 1-1 early in the second, Chad Marshall and Frankie Hejduk added goals for the Crew.

Both teams were original members of the MLS when it began in 1996, and both were playing in the league championship game for the first time.

They took quite different paths to the showdown. The Crew finished with a 17-7-6 record that was the best during the regular season, while the Red Bulls went 10-11-9 and were the lowest-seeded team in the postseason.

When the Red Bulls pulled into a 1-1 tie on John Wolyniec’s goal in the 51st minute, the Crew immediately responded with a goal by Marshall to retake the lead.

Schelotto drove a bending corner kick into the box, and Marshall, voted the league’s best defender this year, leaped high and headed the ball into the goal in the 53rd minute.

“We played a very good second half,” Schelotto said through an interpreter. “The first half was a bit more difficult. We were lucky to get that second goal off a corner kick. After that, I believe we were much better than the other team.”

Hejduk, a member of the Tampa Bay Mutiny in the MLS’ inaugural season, was appearing in his first league title match. He closed the scoring when Schelotto lofted a soft pass into the box and Hejduk headed the ball into the net in the 82nd minute.

“To be honest, I can’t wait to have a beer, hang out and party with my friends,” the 34-year-old Hejduk said. “It’s a little bit surreal right now.”

Wolyniec scored on a bang-bang play in the box. Dane Richards dribbled through defenders Brad Evans and Gino Padula just outside the box and popped the ball in, and Wolyniec redirected it into the goal with his left foot.

Moreno, who had nine goals during the regular season, accounted for the only scoring in the first half, with Schelotto, a 35-year-old former star in Argentina, setting up the goal.

Schelotto stole the ball from Dave van den Bergh and tapped it up the right sidelines to Moreno. He sprinted into a dribble as defender Diego Jimenez scurried back, but Moreno outraced him, and when goalie Denny Cepero had to commit, Moreno kicked the ball across the mouth and it rolled into the net just inside the left post.

Schelotto had 19 assists and seven goals for Columbus this year as the Crew bounced back from a 9-11-10 record the previous season.

New York coach Juan Carlos Osorio thought the Red Bulls outplayed the Crew in the first 45 minutes.

“We should have been one up instead of one down,” he said.

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