RSL kick the Crew

Posted on 03 April 2009 by Patrick McShane

RSL rolled to an impressive victory in their home opener Thursday night, easily dispatching of the Columbus Crew. Robbie Findley didn’t let the cold weather and rain ruin his best performance for the club as he put home two goals in the first half as well as a third early in the second to earn the first hat-trick in RSL club history.

Skip right to the player ratings or the photo gallery.

It took less than two minutes for RSL to get on the board as Findley casually scored on a rebound shot from a Will Johnson free kick. It appeared the Columbus keeper Will Hesmer was caught by surprise when Johnson slammed the ball at goal from over 35 yards out, barely knocking the ball down to a wide-open Findley to roll home. The 11,806 brave enough to come out in the storm erupted with joy, as it seemed like all of the concerns from the previous week had been remedied.

However, all of that jubilation turned to doubt just 20 minutes later when Columbus took advantage of sloppy defending on a short corner to free Columbus striker Jason Garey for an easy tap-in. Fortunately for RSL, Hesmer made another shocking error to gift RSL the lead at half. Having just collected a back pass under no pressure from Brian Carroll, Hesmer curelessly kicked the ball into an unknowing Findley, who quickly came to life and drove the ball around Hesmer for the easiest goal of the night.

Any question as to if Columbus would come out with fire in the second half was quickly answered as RSL continued to maintain sustained attacks against a confused Crew defense. Findley finished off his hat-trick in the 62nd minute after Yura Movsisyan collected a long pass from keeper Nick Rimando and lifted a beautiful cross back in front of goal for a leaping Findley to put home.

It was all she wrote just five minutes later, when captain Kyle Beckerman slammed the final nail from a Clint Mathis corner kick. It was Beckerman’s first goal in the last 25 matches and a well-deserved reward for hustling and organizing RSL’s midfield all night.

Columbus will have little time to recover as they fly to Los Angeles to take on an undefeated Chivas USA squad this coming Sunday. In the meantime, RSL will take pride in coming back from a dreadful opening-week performance and hope to gain momentum for their next match at home against DC United next week

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being best.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Robbie Findley – 10
Is there any question? Findley played his best all-around match as an RSL player, earning the first hat-trick in club history as well as his first multiple-goal match since his debut for the club. He ran all over the crew defense while showing a surprising soft touch and offensive guile.

Rimando: 7– The goal against wasn’t really his fault and the majority of the late saves were made by his teammates, but Rimando continued to show his value to this team without having to be the savior.

Beltran: 3.5 4.5– While Beltran gave some flashes of offensive brilliance early on, he was burned on the left wing all night long by an injured Robbie Rogers and Schelotto. It’s fortunate the he didn’t cost the team more goals like he did in Seattle.

Olave: 8.5 – So cool and calm sometimes that it makes me anxious (Schelotto nearly robbing him for an open goal, anyone?) Despite that, there’s no doubt that he is crucial for this team if they want to contain star opposing players.

Borchers: 7.5 – Unheralded at times, Borchers had a number of crucial clearances in the first half and then finished up the match with all-around composure as Columbus pushed forward. It was his missed header that gifted Columbus their only goal.

Wingert: 6 – ”WINGS!” – as my co-writer likes to call him – has been uncharacteristically shaky in the first two matches this season. After an off-season featuring a contract extension and a USMNT call-up, much more is expected of him.

Johnson: 8 – A much better week for Johnson after he shook off his scattered play from the Seattle match and coolly organized a number of decent attacks. He spent a lot of time on the right side (his preferred position) this week, which may be a positive sign of things to come.

Mathis: 8 – Despite some sloppy passes and plays early on, Mathis never stopped hustling and working defensively. He deservedly earned two assists on the final two goals and continues his surprise return to form.

Beckerman: 9 – Beckerman would have been the MOTM if Findley hadn’t been on the top of his game. After seeming confused and overwhelmed in Seattle, Beckerman came out with fire on Thursday and never stopped working. Can he produce like this every week?

Morales: 7 – Continued his recent trend of drifting in and out of matches. Could the pressure of last season’s success be affecting him?

Movsisyan: 8 – Deserved a goal for all of his hard work and combination play without Findley throughout the night. Still needs to finish better, though one can’t argue with the beautiful pass to Findley for the hat-trick – only his 2nd assist in his entire MLS career.

Williams: 5 – Came in after the match was already well in control.
Grabavoy: 7 – Great energy and never stopping fighting, nearly earning an assist with a beautiful pass to Movsisyan.
Alexandre: N/A – Not much you can say in limited minutes.

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Scoring Summary:
RSL — Robbie Findley 1 (unassisted) 2
CLB — Jason Garey 1 (unassisted) 22
RSL — Robbie Findley 2 (unassisted) 29
RSL — Robbie Findley 3 (Yura Movsisyan 1, Clint Mathis 1) 62
RSL — Kyle Beckerman 1 (Clint Mathis 2) 67


Columbus Crew — William Hesmer, Jed Zayner (Andy Iro 85), Chad Marshall, Danny O’Rourke, Gino Padula (Steven Lenhart 63), Eddie Gaven, Brian Carroll, Emmanuel Ekpo, Robbie Rogers (Alejandro Moreno 63), Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Jason Garey.

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Clint Mathis (Ned Grabavoy 75), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Jean Alexandre 85), Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Andy Williams 70), Yura Movsisyan.

Misconduct Summary: ?
RSL — Nat Borchers (caution; Reckless Foul) 40?
RSL — Kyle Beckerman (caution; Reckless Foul) 45
CLB — Emmanuel Ekpo (caution; Delaying a Restart) 48+?
CLB — Robbie Rogers (caution; Reckless Tackle) 58

Referee: Alex Prus
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Rockwell; Fabio Tovar?
4th official: Tyler Ploeger?
Weather: Partly Cloudy -and- 48 degrees

Photo Gallery

All photos © Julia Fizer/

18 Comments For This Post

  1. MathisFan801 Says:

    McShane, I have a concern with your match ratings. Do you hate Tony B? What di he do to you. Is he some jilted ex-lover? You give Morales, who didn't show up, a seven and Tone Slice a 3.5 (thanks for the pity half point by the way, i'm sure that'll go a long way in the guy not offing himself). OMGZ McShane…HAVE A HEART!

  2. Patrick McShane Says:

    MathisFan… you're the second person to question Beltran's rating. I must admit, a 3.5 is a little rough, so I amend my ratings and give him a 4.5. Better?

  3. Soccer Poodle Says:

    Boy….I am not sure what game you saw. Morales did nothing and you gave him a 7. Beltran was ok and you give him a 3.5. It just shows how the blogs are influenced by reading each other. So much for individualism and truth in journalism.

  4. RSL Fan Says:

    Beltran was at least as solid at Wingert. Your ratings show a complete lack of objectivity. No wonder I rarely read this blog.

  5. ASN_Editor Says:

    Sorry that you feel that way. But surely our photo galleries are to your liking?

    In all seriousness, ratings are by nature subjective. So you don't agree with some of these. That's kind of the nature of this exercise.

  6. RSL Fan Says:

    The problem with internet based journalism is the complete lack of accountability. I feel that ratings like this reflect that. Beltran had a decent night. He should be rated as such.

  7. ASN_Editor Says:

    have you read any of the "mainstream" press reports of MLS matches? What exactly are they accountable to besides a U.S. sports culture that views soccer as an exotic diversion at best and an affront at worst?

  8. RSL Fan Says:
    Please dont compare your "blog" to mainstream journalism. Take a look at the links that you show here for RSL. None of those listed are major publications with actual journalists. While publications like Sports Illustrated may be stuggling, they still hold to a level of journalism that the internet blogs cannot. The fact is that you simply do not have the same level of journalists contributing. Soccer by Ives is a site that blurs the lines only because ESPN allows him to contribute. His writing is still marginal at best. Soccer Insider on the other hand is written by a legitimate, seasoned, well organized writer. Reading Steven Goff is a pleasure. Of course he writes for the Washington Post.

  9. ASN_Editor Says:

    Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News, which we link to regularly, are traditional media outlets and many of our writers are actually professional journalists. Others are hired away from us by MLSnet and elsewhere. In the past our match reports were syndicated by AFP and other wire services. I'm a professional editor. Whatever shortcomings you perceive are not due to lack of skill but a result of having our already limited resources stretched even further. And did I mention none of us are making any money on this? You may not like these particular ratings but extrapolating from that to belittle the overall quality of the site is a bit unfair. Besides player ratings are meant to inspire debate, not act as the final arbiter of it.

    That said, I think it is time to have a way to rate the ratings, to get a view on readers' view of them. Stay tuned for that.

  10. Patrick McShane Says:

    RSL Fan –
    I appreciate your inspired response and I'm glad you feel passionate about my rankings enough to comment. That said, I stand by my rankings. Whereas Morales drifted in and out of the match, he still gave bright moments on attack and – this is the key – was not beat defensively or lost the ball on attack. Beltran was flat out shaky. When two injured players (quality players, but injured nonetheless) are continually bursting by him in dangerous positions for the second week in a row, then I'm going to rate him low. He continually lost possession of the ball both in attack and defense, and the ball movement tends to slow when he has the ball.

    So, there you have it. My opinion. I'm not sure how what I perceive as a writer and, foremost, a fan has anything to do with "truth in journalism." You disagree and so I'm a bad writer with no objectivity? Fine. I'll take that If it means you'll express your opinion and participate like you have today.

  11. RSL Fan Says:

    I accept your reply. I do believe however, that rating players, leads no where. If you want your site to have greater value, take the high road away from being a blog, with blog like opinions, to solid journalism. Sports fans love writing that lets them into the lives of athletes. That is going away in part because athletes are afraid of the media and its knee jerk reactions. Bob Costas hosted a great show last year on how the internet and radio shock jocks are changing sports journalism. Take a look at if you can. It is the singe best piece of sports journalism I have seen in a long while. We all need the hold the mirror up to ourselves once in a while.
    Good luck. I understand you have the best of intentions.

  12. ASN_Editor Says:

    thanks. Historically this site has been based on the exact approach you suggest. To an extent it still is. Unfortunately with news organizations cutting (eliminating?) budgets and wire services uninterested in offering anything beyond the most rudimentary MLS coverage there was little left in ways of interest from traditional sources (readers) who – let's face it – demand to be entertained not just educated. That's why we have started these player ratings and other features as an experiment this season. If they are received as badly as you suggest they are unlikely to continue. However this post has attracted the most comments (by far) of any since the start of MLS season. What that says about the nature of Internet users is a matter for a different debate of course.

  13. RSL Fan Says:


    Thanks for your reply. Your opinion, is just that. An opinion. If we leave it at that I am ok. I saw a very different game than you. Maybe that is why soccer is to interesting, people see different things in the same game. I would venture to say that maybe as a path to becoming a more complete writer, you talk to the players directly. I am sure they would welcome the interviews. I would love to hear more about Morales, Wingert, Beltran and others. What is it like being a player, and what are the game experiences like. As sports fans, we all love watching someone do something we cannot do. Its fun to try to understand what that is like and what makes them tick. Go RSL.

  14. ASN_Editor Says:

    RSL Fan we can accept your opinion as well. The problem is you were not so much pushing it off as an opinion but as a judgement of our work as a whole. I'm sure you an see how that can be construed as unfair.

    We do value your feedback though and hope you return despite your criticism.

  15. RSL Fan Says:

    ASN Editor- I found your site via MLS Daily. I read that every day.

    I stand fast on the fact that individual player ratings in a team sport environment makes little to no sense. Especially when the ratings are as subjective as the ones expressed in this article.

  16. ASN_Editor Says:

    Ratings have a regular place in European and South American media reports of soccer games and are very popular. From that perspective, they make a lot of sense. 🙂

  17. MathisFan801 Says:

    RSL Fan and Poodle,

    Truth be told, I was at the match and Beltran did not play well. I was simply giving McShane, a dear friend of mine, a hard time. Beltran's still new to the league and is trying to overcome the learning curve that goes along with playing soccer professionally. The speed, the systems and the talent–the difference between playing in college and playing professionally, even for a league of the caliber of the MLS, is vast. He's had two shaky games but he is a talented player who will figure it out. As far as calling McShane as some sort of shock journalist, that's just crazy talk. Beltran did not play well and neither did Wingert. Honestly, I feel like the two wing fullback positions are the only real weakness this team has right now. Luckily, they have one of the stronger inside presences in the league with Olave and a good side kick in Borchers.

  18. RSL Fan Says:

    MathisFan801- I saw the game as well. I saw no difference in either Wingert's nor Beltran's play. So why the difference in the ratings. I merely trying to point out that the ratings did not reflect what happened on the field. McShane is wrong in the rating he gave to Beltran. Period

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