Photo by USA Today Sports Images
By COLE KELLOGG
The Columbus Crew twice denied Real Salt Lake of a win at home, though fans didn’t leave completely disappointed.
A four-man free kick routine led to a stellar goal for a weakened RSL side in a 2-2 draw against the Crew at Rio Tinto on Saturday. Olmes Garcia finished off the move before Tony Tchani pulled one back for the Crew.
Sebastian Jaime outsmarted and outworked the Crew defense to put home a goal in the 46th minute, but free-flowing soccer from Columbus led to an equalizer for Ethan Finlay near the 60-minute mark.
The Crew failed to capitalize further after a late red card to Jordan Allen.
It was a strong showing for an RSL-side hampered by injuries and suspensions on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium. With this result, the Crew have still not won on the road this season.
It was almost a completely uneventful first half in Salt Lake City, as neither side could string together a solid chance on goal. That changed dramatically, however, with a RSL set piece that was executed to perfection.
Luke Mulholland took the initial touch from about 25 yards out and slid it to Kyle Beckerman at the top of the box. Beckerman flicked it up to Jaoa Plata on the right side of the six-yard box, who was waiting to head the ball in to Garcia for the tap in.
The lead didn’t last very long for the hosts, though, as Tchani fired home the equalizer in the 42nd minute. The play involved several of the Crew’s star attackers, with Federico Higuain playing in the initial ball from near half-field. Higuain’s pass went to the feet of Finlay, who dished it wide right to Hector Jimenez.
Jimenez whipped in a low, driven cross to find Tchani in the middle of the box for the finish. The hosts weren’t phased, though, and they continued to work hard for the win at home.
They were rewarded within a minute after the second half begun, as Sebastian Jaime took advantage of a miscue between Emanuel Pogatetz and goalkeeper Steve Clark. Neither stepped in to deal with Abdoulie Mansally’s long ball down the length of the field toward Jaime, who sprinted in between the two and chipped the ball into the back of the net.
In the 62nd minute, a methodic counterattack from the Crew led to the decisive equalizer on the night. Kei Kamara received the ball on the right flank and slid in a leading pass for Higuain. The Argentine playmaker hit a one-time cross for Ethan Finlay to smash home.
Allen received a straight red card in the 77th minute for a studs up tackle on Tchani, just 10 minutes after coming onto the pitch. The red card is the sixth of the year for RSL.
Columbus will travel to the Citrus Bowl on Tuesday to face off against Orlando City in the U.S. Open Cup, while Real Salt Lake will host Portland on Wednesday in the same competition.