The Columbus Crew beat Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in front of 18,516 fans on Saturday night, 2-0, moving into sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference. Both goals came in the first ten minutes of the game, and both were assisted by Robbie Rogers. With the win, Columbus moves to 9-6-7 (34 points) on the year. Salt Lake is now 9-4-6 (33 points).
The Crew scored their first goal in the fifth minute. Forward Justin Meram took a quick throw in, finding Robbie Rogers as he was running down the sideline. Rogers cut back towards goal, beating RSL defender Chris Schuler. Rogers found Eddie Gaven at the far post completely unmarked, and Gaven finished very nicely with a low shot past goalie Nick Rimando.
Just minutes later, Columbus scored again. Midfielder Dejan Rusmir lofted a pass to Rogers, who ran on to it, collecting it near the left sideline. Rogers dribbled at RSL defender Robbie Russell and got a cross in after a nice step over. His cross found forward Tommy Heinemann’s head, and Heinemann directed the ball towards goal. Rimando got a hand on his shot, but he could only knock the ball off the inside of the post and in, giving the Crew a 2-0 advantage in the 10th minute.
In the 35th minute, Eddie Gaven had a long range effort saved by Rimando. Fabian Espindola had a great chance to get one back for Salt Lake in the 47th minute, but Crew goalie Andy Gruenebaum made a great save, earning him his second straight shutout.
After the game, Espindola and Crew defender Julius James exchanged words. Head coach Robert Warzycha rushed on to the field as soon as the final whistle blew to make sure James didn’t get involved. Espindola had to be held back by a group of people, making you wonder if RSL really stands for Real Sore Losers.
Columbus plays next on Friday night in Colorado against the Rapids. Salt Lake plays away against Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday.
Columbus Crew – Andy Gruenebaum, Sebastian Miranda, Chad Marshall, Julius James, Josh Gardner, Emmanuel Ekpo, Eddie Gaven, Dejan Rusmir (Eric Gehrig 61), Robbie Rogers, Tommy Heinemann, Justin Meram (Bernardo Anor 76).
Real Salt Lake – Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell (Arturo Alvarez 61), Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Andy Williams (Collen Warner 61), Will Johnson, Jean Alexandre (Luis Gil 70), Fabian Espindola.