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RSL-Crew becomes heated rivalry

Posted on 13 August 2010 by kali

Most fans probably don’t think of the Columbus Crew as one of Real Salt Lake’s biggest rivals.

That may change soon, however, as RSL hosts the Crew in what looks to be a heated contest at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night (7 pm MT, KUSG).

Not only will Real be chasing Columbus’ 22-game home unbeaten record that was set in the ’08 and ’09 seasons, but Salt Lake will also be looking to avenge a tough loss at Columbus in April.  That match ended in a 1-0 scoreline, with the only goal coming from a Guillermo Barros Schelotto penalty kick.

After that match, several Crew players gave quotes to the media that Real coach Jason Kreis not only took exception to, but will surely use for locker-room fodder ahead of Saturday’s rematch.

“They’re walking around as the champions,” Columbus goalkeeper Will Hesmer said. “They’ve been saying they’re the champions. They were sub-.500 last year. So that doesn’t sit well with us. We clearly feel we’ve been the class of the league the past two years and we wanted to prove it.”

After resting several starters, including Jamison Olave, Kyle Beckerman, and Nick Rimando, in RSL’s 1-1 draw at Philadelphia on Wednesday, Kreis should have a number of options available in the midfield and defense.  However, well-rested strikers will be harder for him to come by.  Alvaro Saborio played 82 minutes in the Costa Rican national team’s friendly at Paraguay earlier this week, while Robbie Findley played as a substitute for both the U.S. on Tuesday and for Real on Wednesday.  Injuries should be a relatively minor concern for RSL, with only Pablo Campos and Chris Schuler listed as probable.

However, Columbus will be missing several key players through injury.  Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers, and Gino Padula are all out for Saturday’s match, while Chad Marshall, who withdrew from the U.S. team because of a knee issue, is questionable and Adam Moffatt probable.

Coach Robert Warzycha is likely to go with a similar lineup to that which defeated Philadelphia in the team’s last match, a 2-1 win on August 5.  Steven Lenhart is likely to get a starting nod up front for the Crew, particularly while the team’s new signing, Peruvian striker Andrés Mendoza awaits his paperwork.

Regardless of the lineups, the match ought to be closely contested.  Both teams, along with the LA Galaxy, are in contention for the Supporters Shield, with just one point separating RSL and the Crew.  While Columbus is winless on the road against Western Conference teams this season, the Crew would love to get a result at Rio Tinto Stadium after losing to Real in the 2009 playoffs.

As for Salt Lake’s motivation?  Those newspaper quotes are on the locker-room wall.

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