Match Preview: Crew vs. RSL
All-time record: Columbus leads 6-3-1.
What's at stake
Revenge for the Crew; end of a tough stretch for Real Salt Lake. This wouldn't be the first meeting of the past two MLS Cup winners if the favored Crew had taken care of business in last year’s conference semifinals but the Royals pulled the upset with 1-0 and 3-2 victories. While Columbus is rested and maybe rusty with only two matches so far, this will be RSL’s fourth road game (1-2) before heading home for three games.
It was the 35th minute of the playoff second leg on Nov. 5, 2009, and the Crew were where they wanted to be: Guillermo Barros Schelotto scored his second of the match to put Columbus up 2-1 on aggregate at home. Surely the series was in control. Nope. Javier Morales and Robbie Findley put RSL ahead for good in the series by halftime and ex-Crew man Andy Williams provided the dagger in the 74th.
The aforementioned Findley just loved the Crew last season. His hat trick led to a 4-1 home victory on April 2 and he stunned the Crew in the 88th minute of the playoff opener at Rio Tinto Stadium for a 1-0 victory that set the tone for RSL’s championship run. The Crew have to hope Findley’s problematic groin keeps him on the bench.
Heroes & villains
Robbie Russell vs. Robbie Rogers: The Crew’s Robbie can provide the same type of spark that Findley does when he’s on his game, but so far, he hasn’t been and is coming off an ankle sprain vs. FC Dallas. If Russell can contain him, the rest of the defense will have an easier time.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto vs. Kyle Beckerman: The respective leaders of their teams should cross paths early and often as Schelotto tries to add to his team-best two goals. Beckerman has two goals and an assist in 11 career games vs. the Crew.
Stat that makes you go “Hmm...”
The Crew have an opportunity to go unbeaten in their first three games for the third time in 15 years but didn't make the playoffs in either 2003 (2-0-1) or 2007 (0-0-3).
He said it
“I’m actually happy other teams are getting the attention because it’s sometimes easier to play when you’re not in the spotlight.” -- Crew coach Robert Warzycha noting that his two-time defending Supporters’ Shield winners have been out of the early-season discussions of teams to watch compared to others such as Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Real Salt Lake.