There was no shortage of excitement between Real Salt Lake and Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
But despite a bevy of chances that included a combined 21 shots and a red card for the home side, the two teams played to a 2-2 draw. Tony Tchani and Ethan Finlay scored goals for Columbus, while RSL received contributions from forwards Olmes Garcia and Sebastian Jaime.
Jaime’s goal, coming in the first minute of the second half, put RSL on the path to their second win in three games. But Finlay’s 62nd-minute goal stretched Crew SC’s unbeaten streak to a modest three games.
The point keeps RSL below the red line in the Western Conference with 22 points from 18 matches. Columbus, meanwhile, move into fifth place in the East with 21 points from 17 matches.
The deciding goal came when Columbus forward Kei Kamara played a clever pass to Federico Higuain in the 62nd minute. Higuain then played a square ball to the back post, where Finlay was waiting. RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando tried to cut the pass out at the last second, but it found the Crew striker first.
It was the second time during the match that Crew SC had fought back from a one-goal deficit.
Tchani pulled a goal back in the 42nd minute, turning in a perfectly placed cross from Finlay. That cancelled out a brilliantly executed set-piece goal from about 25 yards out in the 36th minute.
RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland slipped the free kick to the top of the box, where Kyle Beckerman one-timed it over the top of the defense to Joao Plata. He placed a perfect header to the back post for Garcia, who pounced and slotted the ball home.
Things turned tenuous for RSL when young forward Jordan Allen was shown red in the 77th minute, just 10 minutes after entering the match. It was the third red card in two matches for RSL.
Immediately after Allen’s card, Crew SC had a chance to steal three points late when three players were waiting in the box on the end of a cross. It was Higuain who scuffed the chance, however, and the shot went harmlessly over the bar.
Crew SC had one more chance in the final minute of play when Hector Jimenez sent a low cross into the box. It found it’s way all the way to Kamara, but the forward put it over the goal and the match would end in a draw.
Both teams are in action next against Orlando City SC. Crew SC will travel to Florida on Tuesday, and RSL will welcome the expansion side to town for the Fourth of July.