COLUMBUS, Ohio – Real Salt Lake hoped that going on the road would be the elixir after losing two straight at Rio Tinto Stadium, but they ran into a determined Columbus Crew side that put together a complete performance in a comprehensive 2-0 win on Saturday night.
The Crew took a two-goal halftime lead thanks to Tony Tchani in the 16th minute and Eddie Gaven in the 44th en route to their first league victory in over a month before a season-high crowd of 19,674 at Crew Stadium.
Columbus (6-5-4) is 4-1-3 in the past eight games while RSL (10-6-2) suffered a third consecutive league defeat for the first time since July 2007.
Tchani converted a cutback pass from Emilio Renteria after Renteria took a long outlet from Sebastian Miranda on the left side of the penalty area. He slipped upon receiving the ball but regained his balance to dribble past RSL's Chris Wingert toward the end line.
That’s when Tchani ran toward the 12-yard spot and cleanly slotted the service for his second goal of the season, having also scored in the last match in Chicago.
Renteria almost made it 2-0 in the 36th with a strike from 30 yards that was targeted for the upper right corner, but RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando stepped in front of the rising ball for the save.
RSL’s first scoring chance came off a free kick when Javier Morales sent a header toward goal only to see Andy Gruenebaum make the stop in the 36th minute. They would register only two shots on target for the entire match.
Gaven doubled the home team's advantage off a corner kick. Josh Williams settled the service by Chris Birchall and the defender earned his first assist in his 12th MLS game by setting up Gaven at the top of the goal box for a left-footed shot that struck the underside of the crossbar and continued over the line. Gaven leads the team with four goals.
RSL substitute Emiliano Bonfigli tried to draw a goal back in the 71st minute but his shot from a bad angle was cleared off the line by Danny O’Rourke into Gruenebaum’s hands.
The match was moved back an hour because the violent storms that ripped through central Ohio on Friday caused a loss of power at Crew Stadium until late Saturday afternoon.
RSL was affected in another way because there was no electricity at the team hotel from about 5 p.m. Friday until 24 hours later.
The Claret-and-Cobalt were missing captain Kyle Beckerman because of caution points accumulation as well as defender Jamison Olave (calf strain) and midfielder Ned Grabavoy (adductor strain).
Wingert, an outside back, continued at Olave’s centerback spot with Terakazu Tanaka making his fourth start on the backline while Jonny Steele replaced Grabavoy.
Columbus got midfielder Danny O’Rourke back from an ankle sprain for the first time in four games and the forward combo of Aaron Schoenfeld and Renteria started for the first time.
RSL is home to Seattle on Wednesday while the Crew is idle until their first trip to Montreal on July 8.