The Crew rebounded from last week's loss at Chicago with a thrilling 2-0 victory against Real Salt Lake in front of a sell-out crowd at Crew Stadium. Here are three factors that led to the Black & Gold's massive win:
1. TCHANI A NATURAL IN CENTRAL MIDFIELD
As noted in last week's Takeaway Points from Chicago, Tony Tchani is much more effective in the final third playing in a central attacking midfield role rather than on the wing. For the second time in as many matches, Tchani put the Crew on the scoreboard with a nice finish, this time to beat RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
Tchani could have easily given up on the play as Emilio Rentería went to the ground outside the penalty area, but the striker got up to dribble to the endline and find Tchani making a late run into the box.
“First, Emilio fell on the ground. I stopped for a little bit," Tchani explained after the game. "When he kind of beat the guy, I sprinted because if Emilio just put it right there, I'm just going to hit it on target and I did.”
The Crew's other goalscorer, Eddie Gaven, sung Tchani's praises in central midfield in the locker room after the match.
“Tony is a great player (in that role). He's really good on the ball, he makes good runs, makes very good passes," Gaven complimented his teammate. "And as you saw tonight, he can also finish. He scored two really nice goals these past two games. He's making those late runs into the box that are so dangerous for other teams to defend. He's been playing really well in there for us.”
2. O'ROURKE AND DEFENSE STIFLE RSL
Defensive midfielder Danny O'Rourke returned to Robert Warzycha's lineup Saturday night after missing the past three matches following an ankle injury in Seattle on May 23. O'Rourke's presence in the midfield helped stifle Real Salt Lake's attack with the Crew back line to hold the Claret and Cobalt to just two shots on goal.
O'Rourke's veteran leadership in the midfield helped the Black & Gold close out Saturday night's victory with a clean sheet intact.
“(O'Rourke) has a lot of experience. He's probably not 100-percent fit, because he hasn't played since the Seattle game," Warzycha said of the midfielder. "He can manage the game, especially at the end of the game when you have to have somebody on the field with experience to step up and win the ball in the middle. He did that.”
In addition to O'Rourke smothering Javier Morales' playmaking ability, the Crew defense's high line drew RSL striker Álvaro Saborío offside four times in the first half. The physical play of Josh Williams and Julius James frustrated Saborío and Fabián Espíndola and limited opportunities for both forwards.
3. GAVEN BACK ON THE WING
After starting the last five matches as a withdrawn forward, Eddie Gaven returned to the wing Saturday night as Robert Warzycha elected to start Emilio Rentería and Aaron Schoenfeld up top. Gaven ran rampant in through Kyle Beckerman-less RSL midfield, creating multiple scoring opportunites for the Black & Gold.
Gaven scored his team-leading fourth goal of the season on an assist from Josh Williams following a Chris Birchall corner kick.
Gaven's performance earned him Man of the Match among teammates and fans alike.