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Rapids Take Down The Crew In Penalty Kicks, Advance To The Conference Finals

Columbus, OH (Sports Network) – Conor Casey scored in the 84th minute to level the series on aggregate, 2-2, and Columbus’ Brian Carroll missed in the fifth round of a shootout, as the Colorado Rapids edged the Crew, 5-4, on penalties Saturday in the MLS Cup playoffs.

Colorado won the first leg of the two-match series, 1-0, but Eddie Gaven and Robbie Rogers scored to give Columbus the advantage before Casey’s goal forced extra time and penalties after the 2-1 second leg of the total-goals series.

The Rapids converted all five of their penalty kicks, and Carroll’s fifth shot for Columbus sailed over the bar at Crew Stadium to send Colorado to the final of the Eastern Conference against the San Jose Earthquakes.

Columbus nearly erased the first-leg deficit inside five minutes, as Gaven hit the left post to start an early slew of chances for the Crew, but the opening goal followed in the 22nd minute.

Guillermo Barros Schelotto flicked a header on from the right side to Gaven in the six-yard box, and he turned a header past Rapids goalie Matt Pickens.

Colorado Jeff Larentowicz’s found the crossbar a few minutes later, starting a string of Rapids chances over the remainder of the half.

Columbus took the lead in the series in the 70th when Rogers took a pass from Emmanuel Ekpo and finished well to the bottom left.

The Rapids pulled within a goal in the match and tied the aggregate score when Omar Cummings passed from the right to Casey, who lunged to poke the ball past Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum in the 84th.

Columbus enjoyed a few more chances in the two 15-minute overtimes but neither side really threatened to end the game before penalties.

Until Carroll’s miss, only Colorado’s Macoumba Kandji was lucky in the penalty shootout as his shot at the right post slipped off Gruenebaum’s hand and into the net.

Colorado hosts San Jose, which beat Red Bull New York 3-2 on aggregate in the other Eastern semifinal, in the East final Nov. 11-14.