Aggregate draw called for penalty advancement.COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Brian Carroll's missed penalty sent the Colorado Rapids to the Eastern Conference Final game against the San Jose Earthquakes. After Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers scored for Columbus, Conor Casey pulled a goal back late in the second half for Colorado, which evened the aggregate score at 2-2. In the penalty shootout, every shot was true, until Carroll sent his effort wayward, allowing Colorado to advance to the next round.
The onus was on Columbus to get the result at home, and they had every intention of getting a goal early in the game. A turnover from Pablo Mastroeni gifted the ball to Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and a quick through ball played Eddie Gaven in behind the defense. Gaven's shot beat Colorado 'keeper Matt Pickens, but bounced off the post.
Two minutes later, Emmanuel Ekpo played Andres Mendoza in behind the Colorado defense, but Mendoza hesitated while shooting, allowing the Crew defense to deflect it behind the goal, saving what appeared to be a certain goal.
In the 18th minute, Ekpo had a shot from outside of the box tipped over the bar by Pickens, as Columbus continued to push for the goal they desperately needed. In the 21st minute, Columbus seemed to have taken the lead, but as Robbie Rogers' shot was about to roll over the line, Marvell Wynne cleared the ball to preserve Colorado's aggregate lead.
Colorado's aggregate lead was short lived from there, though, as Gaven put Columbus up in the game in the 22nd minute. Brian Carroll sent a cross into the box, which took a deflection, before Schelotto headed the ball into the middle of the box for Gaven. Gaven made no mistake from eight yards out, as he volleyed home to give Columbus the lead.
Colorado eliminated Columbus from the playoffs
The goal seemingly spurred Colorado into action, as they were the only side to have a shot for the rest of the half. Conor Casey was the first to test Crew 'keeper Andy Gruenebaum, but his header two minutes after the goal was straight at Gruenebaum.
In the 28th minute, Jeff Larentowicz nearly equalized for the Rapids, from a free kick 25 yards from goal. But with Gruenebaum beaten on the well placed shot, Columbus was saved by the crossbar, as the shot hit the bar and bounced out.
Omar Cummings had a decent look at goal in the 41st minute, but his effort from a sharp angle was held by Gruenebaum. Larentowicz and Jamie Smith had the final two chances in the only minute of stoppage time, but in both cases, Gruenebaum was able to make the save to keep the aggregate score level at 1-1.
While the first half was filled with chances for both sides, the second half saw fewer chances for either side. Colorado was able to play Columbus close, but were unable to really create any chances at the other end.
It only took one quick counter attack from Columbus to go up by two goals in the game and take the aggregate lead. In the 70th minute, Emmanuel Ekpo picked up the ball in the midfield, and quickly played a ball to Robbie Rogers. Rogers was able to skip around defender Anthony Wallace, before sliding a shot under Pickens for the two goal lead.
Colorado responded well to the goal, and began to create chances in front of the Crew net. Cummings had an effort just wide of the goal after Smith played a ball over the top of the defense. Jeff Larentowicz also had an opportunity, but his effort from the top of the box was held by Gruenebaum.
Conor Casey scored for Colorado
Just when it looked like Columbus might get through, though, Colorado scored to even the aggregate score. Casey was on hand to meet an inviting cross from the right by Cummings, and despite tight marking, he was able to get a foot on the ball and redirect it into the goal in the 83rd minute.
Neither team was able to create from there, though Lenhart fired over after a sublime flick from Barros Schelotto, and overtime ensued.
Both sides had their chances in the extra period, but neither team was able to make the breakthrough in the extra 30 minutes. Steven Lenhart headed over from close range, before Frankie Hedjuk's effort from a Schelotto cross was saved by Pickens. Kevin Burns had a good look in the 105th minute, but his shot was wide of the goal.
Cummings was able to carve out a chance for Mac Kandji in the 108th minute on a quick counterattacking move, but Kanji's shot was straight at Gruenebaum, who made the save with his feet.
After 120 minutes, and the aggregate score still 2-2, the game headed into penalty kicks.
All five penalty takers from Colorado finished their opportunities. Columbus was perfect as well, until Brian Carroll sent the decisive fifth kick clear over the goal, meaning that Colorado advanced.
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