After an impressive return to form versus Vancouver over the weekend, Real Salt Lake fell 2-1 to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium.
The Crew were coming off a 1-1 stalemate over the weekend versus New York. Both teams were depleted either by injuries or Gold Cup call-ups. Real Salt Lake is almost used to it.
An early goal by Real Salt Lake put the visitors up in the 7th minute. The goal came off a corner in which Jamison Olave touched a ball that gave a fortuitous bounce into Will Hesmer’s net. The first half then played out with some back and forth soccer by both teams. Each keeper was forced into some quick saves and smothering of half-chances.
The Crew battled back though and in the 74th minute earned a penalty kick off a somewhat soft tackle by Olave on Justin Meram. Worth noting was the confrontation for who would take the penalty kick after Jeff Cunningham stepped up, only to be pushed off by Designated Player Andres Mendoza. Jeff Cunningham is chasing the all time scoring record and is typically slated to take PK’s for the Crew. Curious what the locker room conversations will entail.
Mendoza did bury his shot though and first to congratulate him was Jeff Cunningham. Mendoza though was not in the best of moods, barely celebrating. When substituted off the field the Crew fans, educated and aware of what went on, booed him off the pitch.
Less than ten minutes later, in the 82nd minute Josh Gardner took a shot from outside the 18 that beat Nick Rimando after a deflection. The Crew were then up 2-1.
Real Salt Lake though continued to press for the equalizer and forced Hesmer to protect his net several times. Fabian Espindola was active on the night, but every game it seems to be a struggle for him to score. He’s always working hard though.
Real Salt Lake will reflect on the game and wonder if they became complacent after scoring the early goal. RSL is traveling to Philadelphia for a Saturday match with the high flying Union. Columbus will look to build on their comeback when they take on the Chicago Fire, Sunday at Crew Stadium.