Crew crumble 2-0 to rival RSL

Posted on 15 August 2010 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake continued their scintillating play at home Saturday as the dispatched the Columbus Crew 2-0 to extend their home undefeated streak to 21 matches, just one away from the league record set by the Crew in the 2008-2009 season. With an upcoming CONCACAF Champions League match at home versus Arabe Unido of Panama, RSL were able to not only secure a vital victory, but also rest some of their key players in the process.

Fueled by media reports throughout the week noting the growing tension between the two squads, the 16,906 fans that came to see a physical grudge match between two top tier teams were not let down. Recently there have been stories citing a number of Crew players who made off-handed comments about the legitimacy of RSL’s championship run last season, after the unheralded Salt Lake squad took a losing record into the playoffs and dominated the favored Crew both home and away en route to a magical run to win the MLS Cup. With both teams currently having the second and third best records in MLS, it was not only a match filled with emotion but a vital contest as they are still in the running for the Supporters’ Shield.

From the opening minute both teams were trying to establish some dominance, with referee Jorge Gonzalez having to separate RSL’s Jamison Olave from Crew forward Steven Lenhart in the first five minutes of play. While the match had a surprisingly low number of cautions, with Frankie Hejduk earning the lone yellow card, this early battle set a theme for the entire match that was relentless for the entire 90 minutes.

Scoring a paltry single goal mid-week at Philadelphia, RSL were hoping to get on the score sheet early in order to set Columbus on their heals. Thankfully for the RSL coaching staff, midfielder Javier Morales answered that call as he blasted home RSL’s first goal less than 12 minutes into the match, putting RSL in the driver’s seat and on their way to a comfortable victory. Taking a short corner from Fabian Espíndola, Morales was able to run freely just outside of the Crew’s box as he lashed a rocket through traffic to the right post. Keeper Will Hesmer appeared lost on the play as Danny O’Rourke didn’t close down on the creative midfielder and he had far too much time to pick his placement for the shot.

While the Crew appeared to be more organized and poised in the second half, the match never really felt out of RSL’s control and it seemed like only a matter of time until the lead was extended. This potential was eventually fulfilled in the 60th minute after Ned Grabavoy was mugged from behind just outside of the box. It was again another perfect opportunity for Morales to excel, and he didn’t let fans down. As the positioning of the ball seemed a little too close for a shot over the Crew wall, Morales keenly powered the ball low and through the wall to the right, well beyond the reach of Hesmer.

Both teams now face a busy week as they play Wednesday night in the CONCACAF Champions League, with RSL playing their fourth match in 12 days. Thanks to the dominating performance, Morales only logged 63 minutes of play and standout newcomer Álvaro Saborío was able to rest the entire match. While it may be easy to assume that the players are tired and may not be able to get energized for Wednesday’s match, coach Jason Kreis feels that he won’t have a hard time finding players interested in competing. “Talking to quite a few of the guys last week, we made the decision to rest a bunch of them… I thought it was going to be a little bit of a sales job for me to tell them how important this tournament is for our club. As has happened many times before, my players made me very pleased because they were all saying how important it was to them.”

The match kicks off this Wednesday at 8:00 pm MST and can be seen on Fox Soccer Channel.

REAL SALT LAKE (11-4-6, 39 pts.) v. COLUMBUS CREW (11-5-4, 37 pts.)
SATURDAY, AUGUST 14, 2010 – RIO TINTO STADIUM

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Javier Morales 5 (Fabian Espíndola 2) 11?
RSL — Javier Morales 6 (unassisted) 60

Misconduct Summary:
CLB — Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48

Lineups:
Columbus Crew — William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk (Jason Garey 81), Eric Brunner, Chad Marshall, Shaun Francis, Emilio Renteria (Leandre Griffit 56), Adam Moffat, Danny O’Rourke, Emmanuel Ekpo, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Dilly Duka 75).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 82), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Andy Williams 63), Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Pablo Campos 72), Fabian Espindola.

Referee: Jorge Gonzalez?
Referee’s Assistants: Craig Lowry; Ian Anderson?
4th Official: Yader Reyes?
?Attendance: 16,906

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