I was at the last Columbus Crew game of the 2008 Major League Soccer regular season. Several fellow supporters of D.C. United (my soccer club of choice) went to Crew Stadium, hoping that United would win and thus, gain entry into the playoffs. Alas it wasn't to be but, considering the year the Crew had, it was probably better that way. The team earned the Supporter's Shield, possessing the league's best record. However in the past they weren't known for much postseason success, never making it to the MLS Cup Finals, and winning only one trophy in competitive play (with the U.S. Open Cup).
That said, the Crew had come into the postseason baring many weapons, namely the League's Most Valuable Player, Argentine Guillermo Barros Schelotto, and goalkeeper Will Hesmer who was tied for the league lead in shutouts. Rather than acquire big names, the Crew went for more anonymous talent who were proven MLS talent and were also young players. Guys like Pat Noonan, who had just returned from club play in Norway, Robbie Rogers, who was set to play in the Dutch Elite League before deciding to stay in the U.S., and Eddie Gaven, traded from a New York team with no apparent use for the youngster. Among those three, Noonan was the veteran, aged 27 at the start of the 2008 season. The Crew won the Eastern Conference comfortably and looked forward to exorcising the playoff demons.
Come the postseason, the Crew took things to the next level, defeating the Kansas City Wizards in the first round and beating the Chicago Fire in the semifinals. The top seed in the East, the Crew played the New York Red Bulls, who emerged despite being the 4th seed in the West (the playoff structure combines overall records, to briefly explain). In the first Finals appearance for both teams, Alejandro Moreno scored in the 31st minute to gain the lead for the Crew. Coming back in the 2nd half, MLS veteran (and former Crew player) John Wolyneic scored for the Red Bulls in the 51st minute to tie it up, but shortly after, 2008 MLS Defender of the Year Chad Marshall scored in the 53rd minute to take the lead, and with minutes remaining in the game, longtime Crew veteran and U.S. National Team player Frankie Hejduk iced the game for the boys in yellow and black.
The main broadcast partner of Major League Soccer is ABC/ESPN, and they do a credible job with the material. They make sure to bring the feel of both European and South American influences that Major League Soccer has in their fans, and you get that when watching the game. There are some deficiencies with the disc itself which you'll notice as you read more of this review, but at a basic level, the disc of the 2008 MLS Cup helps remember soccer at it's highest moment in America, and makes everyone remember that the 2009 season (underway now) brings a whole new promise to those hungry enough to hold the trophy high.
The game is presented in 4:3 full frame viewing, which is from the television broadcasts. Frankly, as it was broadcast in high definition on many outlets, an anamorphic presentation wouldn't have been too much to ask for I think. You get a better perspective as to crosses, player movements and defensive coverages that way. But for full frame, it's fine.
Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo, which I can't really argue with, since the feature is in full frame. It's replicated from TV broadcasts, doesn't have any hiss or distortion issues, and is well balanced. Hooray.
Well, aside from the Final and subsequent trophy awarding, there's a season highlight film reel (3:43) and a behind the scenes look at the team after they won the Cup (5:25), but neither are overwhelming. A missed opportunity for a fuller season in review segment, with interviews from the coach and players, would have been a nice touch of inclusion.
Whether you're a member of the Crew Supporters' Union, Hudson Street Hooligans or La Turbina Amarilla, you're bound to enjoy the 2008 MLS Cup available now on DVD. There's two things you should know going in - first, With know that you're mainly buying it for the game, as there's little else to stand up and cheer for that makes the disc valuable. Second and more importantly, get ready to hand the Supporter's Shield and Cup over to D.C. in 2009, because we're coming your way!