for this game

Evans, Crew keep United out of playoffs

Oct 27, 2008 - 12:42 AM COLUMBUS, Ohio (Ticker) -- Brad Evans and the Columbus Crew just became good friends to the New York Red Bulls.

Evans effectively ended D.C. United's season Sunday, as his goal in the 25th minute gave the Crew a 1-0 victory and ousted the United from the playoff picture.

The United's loss gives the Red Bulls the final Western Conference spot in the MLS Cup playoffs.

The United (11-15-4) came into the day in control of their own destiny, needing a win to secure their sixth straight postseason appearance. They certainly came out firing, going on the offensive against Columbus goalkeeper William Hesmer.

"We (pushed the ball) right away," D.C. head coach Tom Soehn said. "We opened ourselves up to counter-attacks, but we had to win the game, so there was no question we were going to do that. It's a frustrating night and everyone is going to do a lot of reflecting. Tonight, call it bad luck - kind of sums up our season."

But it all went for naught, as Hesmer held strong, making four saves for his 10th shutout of the season - tied for the MLS lead. The United held a 19-10 advantage in total shots.

"We looked like we were the much better team today," D.C. defenseman Marc Burch said. "We were creating the chances and passing the ball, but they play a style that is tough to defend; it's just kickball (and) you get lucky bounces. We created everything and got unlucky, what more can you do?"

The Red Bulls (10-11-9) missed out on a chance to clinch a playoff spot Thursday with a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Fire but were bailed out by D.C.'s loss. They closed the season with a two-point edge over the United and a one-point advantage over the Colorado Rapids (11-14-5).

They will face off against the West's No. 1 seed, the Houston Dynamo (13-5-12), in the first round.

After fighting through a defensive battle for the bulk of the evening Sunday, Columbus finally capitalized on a perfect scoring opportunity. Evans found some space in the middle of the field and drilled a laser from 25 feet out just inside the left post to snap the tie.

"Basically (defenseman) Frankie (Hejduk) was dribbling up the right side and everyone collapsed on him," Evans said. "The ball got played to me luckily, and no one saw me and I had a touch and let it fly."

It was Evans' fifth goal of the season.

"He got a chance and he buried it," D.C. goalkeeper Louis Crayton said. "I don't think he expected it to go in the goal. Fortunately for him, it turned out in his favor. That said, there was absolutely nothing I could do to prevent it. I wish I could."

It was an especially vicious blow for the United, which had nearly taken the lead just minutes earlier. Forward Thabiso Khumalo had a chance from point-blank range right in front of the net, but his shot hit the crossbar and the game remained tied.

"I think both teams played with urgency, but if we finish one of our chances ... the game will open up a little bit," Soehn said. "There were tons of (chances). An inch or two here or there, it's a different game."