Crew Drops Wizards For Semifinal Spot

Associated Press
Sunday, November 9, 2008; 12:46 AM

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Brad Evans and Robbie Rogers scored to give the Columbus Crew a 2-0 win over the Kansas City Wizards on Saturday night and a place in the MLS Cup semifinals.

The teams tied 1-1 in the first leg of the two-game quarterfinal match Nov. 1 in Kansas City, giving Columbus a 3-1 aggregate victory. The Crew will play their semifinal match at home against the Chicago Fire on Thursday.

Evans' goal came in the seventh minute after Crew midfielder Brian Carroll lobbed a long pass over the Kansas City defensive line and into Evans' path. He then chipped the ball over Wizards goalkeeper Kevin Hartman, who had rushed off his line in an effort to reduce Evans' shooting angle.

The ball bounced once inside the 6-yard box before crossing the goal line, and Evans said he thought it was heading wide.

"It took a fortunate bounce and actually bounced really high," Evans said. "I kind of got lucky in that sense."

Rogers doubled the Crew's lead in the 57th minute, after pretty passes from Alejandro Moreno and Guillermo Barros Schelotto inside the Wizards' penalty area gave Rogers space for a left-footed shot that beat Hartman.

"We scored two timely goals. We were able to exploit the space behind the defense," said Crew coach Sigi Schmid. "That's something I was very pleased with."

Columbus frustrated Kansas City's attackers throughout the game, surrendering few good scoring opportunities.

In the 15th minute, Wizards forward Abe Thompson took a pass inside the 6-yard box, but was unable to control the ball on his first touch, giving Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer time to disrupt Thompson and spoil the scoring opportunity.

Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad sent a shot toward goal in the closing seconds of the first half that got past the outstretched arms of Hesmer, but was a yard wide of the left goalpost.

Columbus finished the regular season with a league-best 57 points, 17 points ahead of the Wizards.

"Obviously we knew it would be a difficult challenge, but we believed we were going to be able to do it," said Kansas City coach Curt Onalfo. "But we just fell short."

Schmid said the Wizards were "sharp and aggressive" against the Crew.

"They went after us and made it difficult for us to play," Schmid said.

Referee Ricardo Salazar doled out six yellow cards, including five in the second half as Kansas City's desperation for a goal ran headlong into the Crew's efforts to slow the pace of the game and run time off the clock.

Thursday's game will be the Crew's fifth appearance in a MLS Cup semifinal. Columbus has never appeared in a MLS Cup final.

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