LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Americans Frankie Hejduk and Chad Marshall each scored second-half goals here Sunday, lifting the Columbus Crew past the New York Red Bulls 3-1 to capture the 2008 Major League Soccer championship.
Both clubs were charter members of the US football league when it debuted in 1996 but neither had ever reached the MLS Cup playoff title match before.
Venezuelan striker Alejandro Moreno, who led the Crew with nine goals this season, scored in the 31st minute, his kick from the right side deflecting off the hands of diving goalkeeper Danny Cepero and just inside the far goalpost.
Cepero became the first goalkeeper in MLS history to score a goal when he bounced in an 80-meter effort last month in a regular-season win over the Crew.
New York's John Wolyniec equalized in the 51st minute but fellow American Marshall, the MLS Defender of the Year, answered in the 53rd minute to put the Crew back on top to stay.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, the Argentine midfielder named the MLS Most Valuable Player this year with seven goals and 19 assists, made crucial passes to set up all three Columbus goals but saved his best for the last.
Five minutes after slamming a 20-meter shot off the crossbar, Schelotto lofted a lob over two defenders to the head of American Frankie Hejduk as he rushed into the penalty area in the 82nd minute.
The American nodded the ball over Cepero and it rolled across the line for the clinching goal.
The Crew had the best regular-season record at 17-7 with six drawn and became the first regular-season leader to capture the MLS crown since the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2002.
Columbus wrote a disappointing end to New York's fairy tale season, the Red Bulls qualifying for the last playoff spot despite a losing record and then upsetting 2007 champion Houston and blanking Real Salt Lake in a semi-final.
Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer, who had 10 shutouts and a league-best 17 victories this season, celebrated the triumph on his 27th birthday.
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