The New England Revolution knocked the Eastern Conference champion Columbus Crew out of the MLS Cup playoffs with a 1-1 draw at Columbus Crew Stadium on Sunday evening. The draw, coupled with the New England's 1-0 home victory last weekend, gives the Revolution a date with D.C. United next Saturday to decide the Eastern Conference representative for MLS Cup.
Meanwhile, the Crew now face a long offseason despite just finishing a record-breaking season.
During the regular season, the Crew amazed teams with their ability to get a result nearly every match while garnering the club's first Supporters Shield. However, many of the results were draw and tonight a draw wasn't good enough, the Crew unable to use their hard-earned home field advantage in their favor.
"The guys effort was tremendous, but you have to take advantage of your home turf," said Columbus Crew coach Greg Andrulis. "We didn't do that tonight."
After falling behind by a goal on the match and two goals on aggregate with less than 10 minutes left through a Taylor Twellman strike, Columbus managed to tie the game by way of an Edson Buddle goal. Still, the night will be forever marred by two missed penalty kicks.
Midway through each half, the Crew missed from the spot when a goal would have brought them even in the series aggregate. First, Ross Paule was denied by Revolution 'keeper Matt Reis to break the Crew's streak of 20 consecutive successful penalty kicks. Then in the second half, Tony Sanneh, approaching the ball as slowly as possible, gently pushed the ball easily within the reach of Reis.
After several scares in addition to the two missed penalty kicks, the Revolution were finally able to convert a counterattack to give them an insurmountable lead in the series. Twellman finished into an empty net after a Andy Dorman and Clint Dempsey combined to beat the Crew's defense and pull Crew netminder Jon Busch away from the goal.
"The whole team played some good football. We made some good chances," said Revolution boss Steve Nicol. "I am thankful we put one away just when we needed it."
The Revolution travel to Washington D.C. to take on United in a winner-take-all match with hopes of continuing the trend of late-season surges for which Nicol's team has become famous.
On the other hand, Columbus is forced contemplate their failed championship run over the winter.
"I don't know if there has been a harder one (loss) to take," said an emotional Andrulis. "The guys have a lot to be proud about for the season, but we will remember the disappointment."
John Kuhn is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.