2008 Season Recap

The 2008 MLS season opened with more fanfare than usual – the San Jose Earthquakes, a franchise that dated back to the NASL, were set to make their return to professional soccer.

But the years of heartbreak that Quakes fans had felt since the franchise moved to Houston for the 2006 season wouldn’t let up. San Jose’s expansion season ended in a tie for the fewest points in the league at 33. The consolation? The Quakes’ meager haul put them on par with their California Clásico rivals, the LA Galaxy, in David Beckham’s first full season in the league.

Under the guiding hand of former Ballon d’Or winner Ruud Gullit, the star-studded Galaxy started the season with a 6-4-2 record, good for first in the Western Conference. But their auspicious start was quickly followed by a seven-game winless streak that led to the departure of Gullit and GM Alexi Lalas. Though Beckham and the Galaxy continued to draw big crowds, their bid to return to the postseason after a hiatus in 2007 would ultimately fail.

But as LA fell, the Columbus Crew rose to fill the gap. One season after finishing sixth in the Eastern Conference, Columbus won six of their first seven games. A three game skid would follow shortly after, but the Crew recovered to win seven of eight games from mid-August to early October, finishing the season with 57 points to win the Supporters’ Shield six points ahead of the reigning champion Houston Dynamo.

The Crew finished their season with a win over D.C. United. That win, though it did little for Columbus' prospects, gifted the New York Red Bulls the final berth to the postseason. New York would quickly make sure that Houston’s regular season did not go unpunished by bouncing the Western Conference leaders from the first round behind a goal and an assist from the Jamaican speedster Dane Richards.

Their 2007 final opponents, the New England Revolution, were also dropped in their first round matchup against the Chicago Fire, ending a streak of three straight seasons with a trip to MLS Cup.

And though the Red Bulls upset Real Salt Lake in the Western Conference Final, the help of popular Mexican Designated Player Cuahtemoc Blanco and Brian McBride – a former Crew player whose return to MLS with the Fire prompted fans to make banners that read “Wanted For Treason” – couldn’t push Chicago past Columbus to MLS Cup in Carson.

Instead, the Crew and Red Bulls would square off in what would be the first championship game in both MLS originals’ histories. But the Shield-winners proved their quality once again by beating the Red Bulls 3-1 – Guillermo Barros Schelotto providing assists on all three goals – to give Columbus their first MLS Cup in club history.

2008 MLS standings


Most Valuable Player: Guillermo Barros Schelotto – Columbus Crew
Goalkeeper of the Year: Jon Busch – Chicago Fire
Golden Boot: Landon Donovan – LA Galaxy, 20 goals
Rookie of the Year: Sean Franklin – LA Galaxy
Defender of the Year: Chad Marshall – Columbus Crew
Goal of the Year: Will Johnson – Real Salt Lake vs. FC Dallas – October 18, 2008
Coach of the Year: Sigi Schmid – Columbus Crew

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