COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A Guillermo Barros Schelotto penalty kick in the 38th minute was enough to withstand a late Real Salt Lake charge as the Crew won 1-0 on Saturday night in a soggy matchup of the past two MLS Cup winners.
Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer preserved the lead in the 82nd minute with a diving stop after Nelson González drove a free kick from 22 yards that was earmarked for the upper left corner.
Will Johnson scored on the ensuing scramble, but the goal was whistled offside, negating the equalizer. Hesmer was back in the mix in the 88th minute when made a brilliant kick save after Robbie Findley broke free on a breakaway chance.
Schelotto’s decisive goal came after the Crew’s Robbie Rogers was taken down in the box by RSL’s Robbie Russell. The Argentine veteran coolly powered the ensuing shot to the upper left corner past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando for the only tally of match that was soaked with steady rain showers and made attractive play a tough task.
The goal was Schelotto’s third of the season.
Columbus remained unbeaten at 2-0-1 this season and avenged last year’s postseason loss to RSL last year, when the visitors won 3-2 in the second leg of the Eastern Conference semifinal series and stunned a Columbus team which won the Supporters’ Shield.
Saturday’s loss dropped Real Salt Lake to 1-3-1 in their first season as defending MLS Cup champions.
The Crew welcomed back defender Eric Brunner from a concussion, but his partner in the middle, Chad Marshall, was scratched because of a hamstring strain. Also, defender Danny O’Rourke served a red-card suspension, enabling Gino Padula to make his first start of the season at left back for Columbus.
Padula left in the 54th minute with a leg injury and was replaced by Jed Zayner in his season debut after suffering a knee injury in preseason.
The Crew play at Seattle Sounders FC on May 1, while Real Salt Lake open a three-game homestand against Toronto FC.
Scoring Summary: CLB -- Guillermo Barros Schelotto 3 (penalty kick) 38’
Misconduct Summary: RSL -- Kyle Beckerman (caution; Reckless Foul) 50’
Referee: Steven DePiero Referee's Assistants: Joe Fletcher; Hector Vergara 4th Official: Andrew Chapin Attendance: 14,322