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 Friday, October 25, 2002 21:29 EST

Crew unbeaten at home all-time in tourney play

[Associated Press]

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Columbus Crew finally won their first championship of any kind.

"It feels real good, especially for the guys that have been here for so long," coach Greg Andrulis said Thursday night after the Crew beat the Los Angeles Galaxy 1-0 to win the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Freddy Garcia scored from 6 yards out in the 30th minute. Goalkeeper Matt Reis' diving punch save on a shot by Brian West went directly to Garcia, who volleyed the ball into the open net.

"I was so happy to be there," Garcia said. "I was trying so hard to get there and put the ball in."

Columbus lost to New England in this year's MLS Cup semifinals. The Galaxy won their first MLS Cup on Sunday with a 1-0 overtime victory over the Revolution.

"This really means a lot to us," Jeff Cunningham said. "We got a taste of what it's like to be a champion and I'm sure all of us are thirsty for some more."

The 89-year-old Open Cup features more than 100 professional and amateur teams nationwide in single-elimination competition. It was renamed in 1999 to honor Hunt, the operator of the Crew and the Kansas City Wizards.

"We want to thank the Hunt family for their support and we're awful happy to put the Lamar Hunt trophy in the Columbus Crew trophy case," Andrulis said.

Los Angeles' best scoring chance came in the 78th minute when Carlos Ruiz crossed to Simon Elliott, whose header from 5 yards out went wide right. Ruiz, the MLS Cup and regular-season MVP, nearly tied the game during injury time with a 6-yard shot that Jon Busch deflected.

"I don't think we got outplayed. We didn't give them a whole lot," Galaxy coach Sigi Schmid said. "We just didn't finish the chances when we had them.

The defending Open Cup champions had a man advantage for the final seven minutes after defender Chad McCarty was given a red card in the 83rd minute for fouling Sasha Victorine.

Columbus is 7-0-1 in Open Cup games at home.

After Columbus' goal, the Galaxy sent several players forward. Los Angeles had a 19-10 advantage in shots.

"Our guys fought hard, we had a lot of blocked shots, we had a lot of guys throwing their bodies in front of the ball," Andrulis said.

Columbus defender Mike Clark shadowed Ruiz and fouled him whenever he touched the ball near the penalty box. Both players received first-half yellow cards. The game featured 34 fouls and five cards.

"They were two titans going at it," Andrulis said. "Neither one was going to give the other an inch."

Los Angeles had three quick shots in the first half. Busch saved Chris Albright's shot in the 26th minute and Duncan Oughton deflected Simon Elliott's attempt to put in the rebound. The ball came back to Albright, whose shot from 8 yards out was blocked by Eric Denton.

The Galaxy has won three of the five championship games it played in during the last two years, including the MLS Cup, the 2001 U.S. Cup and the 2001 CONCACAF Champions Cup.

"I am proud of my team," Schmid said. "I can't go scream at them for not putting forth the effort."

With the victory, the Crew won $100,000 and earned a berth in the 2003 CONCACAF Champions Cup. The 16-team tournament crowns a champion from North and Central America and the Caribbean.

Connolly: U.S. Open Cup alive and well

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