Two goals from the Columbus Crew dropped Real Salt Lake to a 2-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night. The loss is RSL’s second of the season at home.
Columbus came out swinging in the first half. In just the 5thminute, Robbie Rogers got ahead of RSL defenders Robbie Russell and Chris Schuler and turned the corner toward goal. His square ball found Eddie Gaven wide open, and the veteran midfielder easily slotted the ball past diving goalkeeper Nick Rimando and into the net for the first goal of the game.
The Crew kept up the pressure and a long distance shot by midfielder Dejan Rusmir in the 8thminute had enough on it to force Rimando to punch the ball away.
Rimando may have kept Rusmir’s shot from finding goal, but just two minutes later the Crew would add a second to go up by two. Again it was Rogers creating the play down the left side, this time lifting a cross to forward Tommy Heinemann who headed home for the 2-0 lead.
Real Salt Lake had two chances to close the gap in the first half, both involving forward Jean Alexandre who was filling in for the suspended Alvaro Saborio. On the first chance, Fabian Espindola made a chip pass in the box that Alexandre got a foot on, but his shot sailed over the net. Just moments before the halftime whistle Espindola led Alexandre into clear space but the Haitian international couldn’t get the ball off of his feet and the defense was able to recover to clear the danger.
RSL had a great chance coming out of the break as Espindola initially beat the defense but defender Julius James did a good job of catching up to the play, forcing the Argentine striker to gather. Espindola still managed to get a quality shot off, but goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum made a good cover on the shot, pushing it to the side.
As would be expected the opposing coaches made differing adjustments as the second half wore on. Coach Jason Kreis brought in an extra attacker while Robert Warzycha went with a more compact formation. The result was RSL seeing a lot of the ball for the remainder of the game, but struggling to find full chances. Espindola seemed to be well on his way to pulling back a goal for the home side in the 86th minute, but he was called offsides.
After the final whistle, Columbus defender Julius James and Espindola nearly came to blows after exchanging words, but were quickly separated by teammates and coaches.