A place in Major League Soccers final four, and a chance to host the Eastern Conference Final are on the line today at Crew Stadium as the Columbus Crew takes on the Colorado Rapids in the second leg of their first-round MLS playoff series (4pm, Telefutura).
The Rapids posted a 1-0 victory against the Crew in the first leg, but Columbus has the home edge tonight and needs to win by multiple goals to win the series, or a one-goal victory to force overtime and potentially penalties.
I will be providing commentary on todays match so please feel free to follow along here. As always, you are welcome to share your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below.
Enjoy the action (Commentary is after the jump):
FINAL- The Rapids win and will face San Jose in the Eastern Conference Final in Colorado next week.
Thats all for me. Thanks for following along and be sure to follow SBI for tonights Real Salt Lake-FC Dallas match.
Feel free to share your post-match thoughts in the comments section below.
FINAL- In the end, Columbus paid the ultimate price for not doing more with the first 25 minutes of the game when the Rapids were clearly overwhelmed. Colorado missed chances as well, but stayed in the game and Casey gave them life.
Rapids convert all five PKs and will now host the Eastern Conference final next Saturday against San Jose.
PENALTIES- CARROLL MISSED IT!!!!!!!!!!
COLORADO WINS IN PKS!!!!
Brian Carroll skied his kick Baggio style.
PENALTIES- GOAL RAPIDS and Baudet converts it.
PENALTIES- GOAL CREW and its BRUNNER HIGH to the right.
PENALTIES- GOAL RAPIDS and its Lopez with a blast.
PENALTIES- GOAL CREW and its Gaven with the conversion.
PENALTIES- GOAL RAPIDS, Larentowicz goes low left.
PENALTIES- GOAL CREW and Jason Garey goes high to the right.
PENALTIES- GOAL RAPIDS and Kandji gets away with a bad penalty. Greunebaum got his hand on it, but couldnt keep it out.
PENALTIES- GOAL CREW and its Schelotto hard left.
PENALTIES- GOAL RAPIDS, Casey makes it to his left.
PENALTIES- Conor Casey up first for Colorado.
END OF REGULATION- Crew 2, Rapids 1. Series is tied 2-2 and were not heading to penalty kicks.
Who do you have winning in kicks? Rapids have their starting keeper in place. If Will Hesmer were in goal Id go Crew, but it will be tough. Can Greunebaum be the hero?
122nd Minute- Announced attendance for tonights match: 10,322. Disappointing.
120th Minute- OT stoppage time. Cant be much.
Two minutes left.
Schelotto still trying to play, but clearly can barely move.
119th Minute- Schelotto is back on the field, were down to the final few minutes.
116th Minute- Schelotto is down. Hes cramping up and laying down. No more subs so hell have to gut it out until PKs.
114th Minute- Wow, the replay shows just how close Lenhart was on his shot. Does the Crew have any chances left?
112th Minute- LENHART HIGH!!! Wow, nice turn and run by the big man, but his blast zooms over the crossbar. Great chance off a nice back-heel pass from Schelotto.
107th Minute- Were underway here and still looking for a goal.
Kandji with a shot saved by Gruenebaum. Wasted look.
OVERTIME HALFTIME- Still tied. Weve got another 15 minutes and, if no goals are scored, weve got penalty kicks.
105th Minute- Wow, Kevin Burns had a great look in the area, somehow keeps possession and earns a shot from 15, but hooks it wide right. What a chance.
103rd Minute- Cummings shakes loose in the area and sends a pass in, but Francis steps up with a clutch tackle to get the ball away from Lopez.
102nd Minute- Casey is down, but the Crew wont be waiting for him to get up.
Still no goals in OT. Three minutes left in the first half of OT.
99th Minute- Crew look better right now but those missed looks are getting more and more troublesome.
96th Minute- CREW COMES SO CLOSE!! Pickens pounces on a dangerous ball. Hejduk will have nightmares about the open look he just missed.
95th Minute- Crew had a quick start to OT, but couldnt put a shot on frame. Now here comes the Rapids.
93rd Minute- Crew on the attack, with Schelotto pumping balls into the area. Lenhart got his head on one, but it goes over the bar by a good margin.
91st Minute- Overtime is underway.
END OF REGULATION- Crew 2, Rapids 1. Series is tied 2-2 and were heading for a 30-minute mini-game to decide the series winner. No golden goal, full 30, and if its still tied we go to penalty kicks.
94th Minute- Were almost done here for regulation.
93rd Minute- Rapids free kick and Lopez is lining it up.
91st Minute-Three minutes of stoppage time.
90th Minute- Crew is taking on too much pressure late. Rapids look good for a series winner before long.
Steven Lenhart replaces Rogers.
87th Minute- Were looking like were headed for a 30-minute mini-game to decide this if no other goals are scored in regulation (Jinx Attempt).
84th Minute- GOAL RAPIDS!!!! And its Conor Casey with the finish. Cummings with the cross in and Casey beats Brunner to the ball to slot it home. WOW. Series is TIED 2-2!!
82nd Minute- Claudio Lopez is in the match now, replacing Kimura (with Smith sliding to right back). Does he have some magic left in those old boots?
81st Minute- Smith goes wide with a long-range shot. Teed it up from distance but didnt have the accuracy.
Kevin Burns comes in for Ekpo.
76th Minute- Wynne with a surging run forward but you just knew it would end badly.
Schelotto shanks a clear look from the top of the box. What a chance, surprised to see him miss that so badly.
75th Minute- Cummings sends another good look wide. Wasted chance there.
Mac Kandji comes on for Brian Mullan.
71st Minute- What a great long-range pass from Ekpo to find Rogers streaking down the right. Rogers beats Wallace easily and finishes perfectly. Crew up 2-1 on the series now. Rapids had better wake up.
70th Minute- GOAL CREW!!!! And its Robbie Rogers WITH THE FINISH!!! Crew 2, Rapids 1.
66th Minute- Good job by the Crew all on that free kick, blocking it.
Crew trying to counter but cant quite find a rhythm. Schelotto struggling to find the ball now.
65th Minute- ANother yellow for the Crew, thats four, and its on Francis. Dangerous free kick for the Rapids. Mendoza comes out for Jason Garey.
62nd Minute- Colorado looks fresher right now, but they lack a playmaker to help organize and create. Rely too much on long balls and Cummings speed.
60th Minute- Right now I just think Columbus doesnt have the gas tank to keep attacking and you wonder if they can find that early-game gear again. Might need some subs soon if things dont pick up.
56th Minute- Yellow card for Carroll. Ugly tackle there. Rapids on the front foot now.
55th Minute- Columbus comes out flat to start this half. Didnt see that coming, but it could lead to a Rapids goal pretty soon.
52nd Minute- Rapids FK goes begging but they come right back and send a shot wide. Colorado looks ready to attack this half.
Yellow card for Ekpo for a tackle on Larentowicz.
50th Minute- Rapids with a free kick from distance.
46th Minute- Were back.
HALFTIME- If youre following along with the commentary, please let me know in the comments section, and let me know where youre following from.
HALFTIME- Crew 1, Rapids 0. And were tied 1-1 in the series. Columbus with all the action in the first 20-25 minutes, but managed just one goal. Colorado got more involved late, but has relied on set pieces and long-range blasts to test the Crew.
45th Minute- DOUBLE SAVE by Gruenebaum. Stops a long-range blast from Larentowicz and a short-range rebound. Nice work by the back-up GK
43rd Minute- Colorado slowly gaining a foothold and controlling the match now, but still not doing enough with possession.
41st Minute- Cummings with a look and a bad shot. Were clearly seeing bad Omar Cummings right now.
38th Minute- Mullan with a yellow card for a pulldown foul on Rogers. Colorado having some success on set pieces, but were still waiting for that offense to show something.
37th Minute- Hey, its Omar Cummings, with a header high on a corner kick. His first legit involvement and he skies a header.
34th Minute- The Crews torrid start has subsided and now weve got an even game. Still waiting for the Rapids attack to do anything in the run of play.
32nd Minute- Schelotto avoids a yellow (or even red) card after a slide tackle on Moor. Couldnt see him getting the boot (well, if Kevin Stott were the ref maybe).
29th Minute- Will the Rapids start to find the game when Columbus inevitably slows down? Crew cant keep up that early pace.
28th Minute- Rapids OFF THE POST!! Larentowicz with the free kick blast. Gruenebaum knew nothing about that one from 30.
26th Minute- Crew is still on the front foot and Colorado has nobody stepping up to try and slow things down and keep the ball. Where are Mastroeni and Larentowicz.
22nd Minute- GOAL CREW and its Gaven, finishing off a loose ball from close range to punish an AWFUL-looking Rapids defense. Crew 1, Rapids 0, series tied.
21st Minute- OFF THE LINE, Wynne SAVES a goal. WOW.
18th Minute- SAVE PICKENS!! And its an Ekpo shot that forces a fingertip save from Pickens. Long-range blast.
14th Minute- Schelotto is doing well to find the game, Crew getting him the ball. Still waiting for Rapids to do the same with Cummings.
11th Minute- Nothing from the Rapids attack yet. Still waiting for an Omar Cummings sighting.
For Columbus, Andres Mendoza is looking good early.
10th Minute- Columbus is out to a flying start and early on the Crew is dominating the wings. Kimura and Wallace had better get their acts together.
7th Minute- ROGERS WIDE!! Wow, Columbus comes close again and misses again. Colorado cant be happy with this start, but the Crew has to realize these chances wont keep coming.
5th Minute- ANd here comes Columbus again, with Mendoza missing wide on a good look. Columbus is on the attack, but missing some good chances.
4th Minute- WOW, Gaven hits the left post. SO CLOSE for the Crew.
3rd Minute- No offense to the Crew commentators but Ive settled on watching the Telefutura feed. Just a better game call (if you know Spanish). Actually, I just want to hear Fernando Clavijo talk about the Rapids.
2nd Minute- And the crowd can be heard singing We Love Ya. Is there a team in MLS whos fans dont sing that song? Wish we could get some variety in supporter songs.
1st Minute- And were off.
PRE-GAME- Its sunny and very chilly at Crew Stadium. Field is in good shape, good day for a game.
PRE-GAME- If you have DirecTV and the Sports Package, and dont want to watch the match in Spanish, you can turn to channel 662 for the Columbus Crew home feed of the match.
PRE-GAME- How about Fernando Clavijo serving as a studio analyst for this match. That has to be some sort of jinx for Colorado, right?
PRE-GAME- As I stated above, the winner of this match will host the Eastern Conference final against the San Jose Earthquakes.
PRE-GAME- For Colorado, the key will be staying compact defensively and getting Omar Cummings involved going at a Crew defense that had no answers for him in the first game. His ability to float around can disrupt the Crews defensive organization.
PRE-GAME- The key for the Crew will be finding room for Schelotto to operate. Larentowicz and Mastroeni will look to smother him and limit his options, but the Argentine star is smart and crafty when it comes to finding the gaps in a defense. Rogers and Gaven need to take advantage of space created when defenders squeeze Schelotto.
PRE-GAME- Here are the starting lineups:
BENCH- Harrison, Iro, Padula, Burns, Moffat, Garey, Lenhart
BENCH- Joyce, Palguta, Baudet, Lopez, Thompson, Amarikwa, Kandji