Top Stories

RSL and Columbus face off in CCL showdown tonight


Win and advance.

Real Salt Lake can become the lone surviving Major League Soccer team in the CONCACAF Champions League, and has a chance to reach the CCL semifinals, with a win tonight at Rio Tinto Stadium against the Columbus Crew (10pm, Fox Soccer Channel).

Columbus has that same chance to carry the MLS flag into the semifinals, but will be a considerable underdog on the road. Tonight's match is a battle for respect for a rebuilding Columbus side, but it is a potential first step toward a dream season for an RSL club with high aspirations.

Columbus gave Real Salt Lake fits, though not as many as referee Jair Marrufo, in the 0-0 first-leg draw at Crew Stadium, but the patchwork Crew will find the going much tougher at Rio Tinto Stadium, where RSL has been virtually unbeatable since the stadium opened in 2008 (the club is riding a 33-match home unbeaten streak).

If Real Salt Lake is going to win, it will need to do so without suspended starting defenders Nat Borchers and Tony Beltran, who were issued red cards in the first leg. Columbus should be looking to exploit central defender Rauwshan McKenzie with forwards Jeff Cunningham and Andres Mendoza.

The two sides played an ugly first match at Crew Stadium, with the bitterly cold conditions and three red cards rendering the game a mess. The draw leaves RSL with the task of winning at home, where it hasn't lost since 2009.

If Columbus is to pull the upset, and the Crew can do so with a scored draw as well as a victory, it will need to do so without injured star defender Chad Marshall as well as goalkeeper Wil Hesmer, among others. Rookies Rich Balchan and Cole Grossman started and played 90 minutes in the first leg and both should play key roles again tonight.

Ultimately, RSL should be strong enough in its attack to break down a patchwork Columbus defense, but the Crew has some dangerous forwards who could capitalize on a short-handed RSL defense.

Tonight's winner will advance to the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, where they will meet the winner of the Deportivo Saprissa-CD Olimpia Champions League quarterfinal. Saprissa won their first leg, 1-0, with the second leg set for Wednesday.

You can follow tonight's action here on SBI, where we will have a live commentary running during the match.

Who do you see winning tonight's game? think Columbus can pull the upset, or is Real Salt Lake too strong at home?

Share your thoughts on tonight's match below.


  1. Borchers suspension hurts but the great thing about this RSL squad is that it’s loaded with solid veterans and a few standouts to pick-up the slack. Saborio needs to be dangerous to allow other attacking options to apply pressure. Let’s go RSL!

  2. I will be at the game tonight but I am also worried, jeff always plays like he still has a score to settle with Jason for letting him go. RSL hasn’t lost at home in 33 games but they also havn’t won all those games. So this could be scary if the wrong RSL team shows tonight.
    GO RSL!!!!

  3. Too bad this game couldn’t be played when both teams are in mid-season form. Though I would love to see Columbus squeak through because of how consistently good they’ve been as of recent years, I see RSL grabbing one early, packing it in, and protecting a 1-0 advantage.

  4. RSL will take it, bigger home crowd, elavation, and warmer weather will all help, but I believe the Crew are weaker then some of you guys realize. I think the fact that they could’nt score at home says a lot!

  5. The loss of Beltran is not too big, as we can use Russell in that spot. Borchers will be big, but I have faith in Mackenzie (that is who I hear will replace him).

    The away goals scare me, but then I look at the last 2 RSL vs. Columbus games at the RioT.

    4-1, and 4-0. We should be fine.

  6. I’m biased because I’m more of an RSL fan than a Crew fan – but I think RSL has a better chance of remaining competitive in the rest of the CONCACAF CL. And to see an MLS team win the Champions League (and continue on to the FIFA Club World Cup) would be awesome. Come on, RSL!

  7. I’ll be at the game tonight, screaming til I’m hoarse, in a mostly full stadium (exact opposite of last week’s game)! With all the complaints about RSL last week, let’s not forget that the ‘new and improved’ Crew could not score a goal at home, even while playing about a third of the game a man up.

    GO RSL!!!!!!

  8. Too much emphasis is being put on the RSL home unbeaten record. There’s a first for everything, like not having a shot on goal or corner kick for the first time in club history.

    Regardless, the Crew go through 1-1 and lose in the semi-finals. I want RSL to win tonight, because I believe they could win it all and represent MLS well, but I think they cough up an away goal tonight.


Leave a Comment