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Real Salt Lake vs. Columbus Crew - game thread and live blog


Sorry, I ran into some tech issues, but here we go, if you want to make comments I will try to keep track of them and respond.  I will be posting updates based on 10 minutes segments, here are your starting lineups:

Crew: Hesmer, Hejudk, Brunner, Iro, Padula, Carrol, Moffat, Rogers, Gaven, Lenhart, Schelotto

RSL: Rimando, Russell, Olave, Borchers, Beltran, Beckerman, Williams, Warner, Johnson, Espindola, Saborio

0-10 minutes

Some battling back and forth so far you would have to give the edge to RSL with possession.  A couple nice attempts on goal, a good run by Saborio just as we hit 10 minutes but Hesmer gets there and trips Alvaro but no call.

more after the jump:

10-20 minutes

RSL give up a corner but it doesn't end up in much, RSL goes down the pitch but turn the ball back over and then a foul about 10 yards out and wide of goal. A great ball by GBS finds the head of Iro but his effor to head the ball down bounces up and over the goal.  Columbus is doing a much better job of possessing the ball in this downpour, it reminds me of the very first RSL match ever in New York when it was more like a tropical storm.  I don't think the wind is as bad tonight.  Another Columbus corner kick, but this one is punched away by Rimando and RSL finally get a little possession.

A turnover deep in the Crew end, but a turnover then a call against the Crew at midfield and RSL get it back but turn it back over again.  RSL find a way to get it back but a bad pass by Beltran and Columbus gets it back, then another bad pass and RSL get it back and Andy tries to play the ball to Saborio but it is long and back to Hesmer.

20-30 minutes

Warner is whistled for a foul as he runs into Padula who goes down and always with him there is a bit of drama. RSL is doing a bit of a better job of keeping the ball in the Columbus end of the pitch, but eventually it goes out for a deep throw in for RSL. A ball played over the area and it goes over the goal and the offside flat is up and it goes back over to Columbus, wow the rain is really heavy and I have a feeling that is impacting the play and ability to keep possession for both teams.

A long shot by distance and it deflects and goes out for a RSLcorner kick, Andy will take it and gets hit with a streamer, the Crew clear the ball but RSL controls it until an errant pass and now the Crew get a throw in  but RSL get the ball back and are organizing another attacking effort.  I am impressed right now that Warner is really working hard and all over the pitch, RSL again organizing at midfield.  I think RSL is realizing that slow and steady might be the way to go with the conditions as the are, an offside flag gives the ball back to Columbus and Gaven offers up a shot from distance and it is out for a goal kick.

RSL is doing a much better job of connecting passes and forcing Columbus to play the ball out and forcing RSL to regroup, finally a pass ends up back to Hesmer and Columbus start their attack but quickly broken up by RSL and then again turned right back over to Columbus.  The ugly play is clearly caused by hard rain and the call goes against GBS, as he is bumped by Olave and grabs the ball.  I love listening to the opposing team broadcast, they see a slight touch as a clear foul when our guy does it, but not when theirs do.

30-40 minutes

A long range shot goes out for a RSL goal kick but the Crew get it back and get it deep in the RSLend but they can't do anything with it and now a foul is called against RSL to give Columbus a free kick from about 15 yards outside of the area, GBS to take it and unlike the playoff goal from a similar place this one goes to Rimando.  Andy dances around at the top of the box with the ball but unable to create anything and it goes back over to the Crew as they look to attack and now another foul is called this time about 30 yards out of the area and again GBS lines up to take it, into the area and I am amazed that no call as Lenhart goes over the back of a RSL defender but it ends up going out for a Crew throw in.

RSL get the ball back and Jonhson does a nice job of moving it upfield in a hurry, Espindola tries to play it cross field and then it is handed by Padula who of course plays innocent. Good ball in but Hesmer plays it out for a deep RSL throw in and eventually the Crew clear it to midfield but RSL keep possession and go back to Rimando to reset.  Columbus get a throw in but RSL breaks it up but the Crew keep possession and they get the ball in the area and a Russell barely touched Rogers and there it is another PK call.  Sorry that wasn't enough contact to put him down and again an official makes a questionable call because RSL put themselves in a bad position.

Rimando can do nothing to stop the effort of GBS and the Crew are up 1-0 in the 38th minute.

Real Salt Lake are quick to attack after the restart but Hesmer breaks up the first effort, and RSL keep battling until they give up the ball on a deep Crew throw in but RSL battle back and get the ball back again. A bad pass by Russell fails to get to Williams and over the the Crew and then out for a throw in, but RSL again get it back and are back on the attack.

40-halftime

RSL have the ball in the final third of the Crew side of the pitch and they play a good ball into the area but it is cleared but RSL does a nice job of keeping possession.  The size of the Crew defenders is hindering the RSL air attack, so they try a ground attack as Saborio fires a shot that is just a bit high and out for a goal kick.

Espindola commits another foul, and he needs to be careful or he will get a card soon.  Wow what a dive by Lenhart, he should have been carded for that one but he might just get an Oscar for it.  A long ball by GBS rolls all the way to Rimando but the Crew get it back at midfield, only to turn it right back over,  Columbus get it back and Rogers takes a shot from distance and it goes just a few inches over the bar and out for a goal kick.  1 minute of stoppage of time in the first half and RSL look to get one more attack organized and they get a deep throw in and Iro plays it out and a foul is called on Saborioso the Crew get a free kick and the whistle blows as we are still 1-0 with the Crew getting their goal on the 3rd PK goal against RSL this year.

Halftime observations:

It looks like it is clear that bothteams are really struggling withthe weather as bothof these teams are suffering from a slick ball and slick surface.  That is making the passing very tough and as a result both sides are turning the ball over more than they normally would, I would have to belivethat both teams will likely adjust their play to use more long runs than normal as the passing is tough.

I would expect that unless RSL can get a goal soon, that you will see Findley or Campos come in for Espindola who is working hard but appears a bit frustratedwith both the conditions and defensive effort of the Crew.  Andy has looked good in the midfield and while Collen Warner has had good moments he hasn't seen as much of the ball as I would have expected.  The back line again lets a guy get into a dangerous position and make a questionable play which gets a whistle and the official points to the spot and we give up that 3rd PK goal of the year.

45-55 minutes

The rain has slowed and I don't see any changes by RSL, A long ball over the top by Russell goes to Hesmer and the Crew play the ball long and it goes to Rimando.  Finally a little possession as RSL are trying to attack but they give the ball away and then Andy fouls Gaven for a Crew set piece and a huge shot from distance and it bounces out for a goal kick.  The Crew take it back and build a bit of possession then RSL take it back but Rogers fouls Warner and RSL regroup and give it up for a throw in.  RSL controlled for a second and now the Crew look to build something but are forced back and Hesmer plays it out for a RSL throw in. A couple nice passes from Warner and Williams as RSL try to get something going,  Russell is up in the attack and a ball played in by Espindola is cleared by the Crew and a midfield battle between Hejduk and Beckerman, and in the end a yellow card for Kyle.  GBS plays it in and it is cleared by RSL who look to organize something, a good ball by Kyle to Saborio and then it is played around until the Crew take it back as Russell fouls Rogers.

RSL get the ball right back and again are on the Crew half of the pitch, another foul on Beckerman as it goes over to the Crew, and action is stopped as Padula (not the player fouled) is sitting on the pitch.  It looks like he might be done as Zayner is on for the Crew and Padula can go sit on the bench.

55-65 minutes

RSL are doing a nice job of keeping the ball in the Crew half of the pitch but eventually it ends up in Hesmer's hands and he restarts the action.  Russell pokes the ball away from Lenhart as the Crew are looking dangerous after doing nothing since the start of the half.  Olave saves the day as Borchers goes down and misses the ball, and eventually RSL get the ball back and they are in the Crew final third and a ball in by Espindola finds nobody in the box.  I have to say I really like the touch and vision of Saborio, I expect we might see a midfield change that would bring in Gonzalez soon as RSL needs some creative energy.

The offside flag goes up as Fabi is caught sneaking ahead just a bit,  Hesmer plays a ball but it goes right to Rimando.  OK it looks like it might be Javiand Robbie coming in as both try to get back to 100 percent fitness, this could be the change RSL needs as Columbus blows a great chance as Lenhart falls down in the RSL area hoping for a gift but no RSL player had made contact with him.  The Crew play a long ball but it rolls to Rimando and RSL is now trying to get something organized again.

Javier Morales is in for Warner and Findley in for Espindola.  RSL get a little boost but are unable to create anything and Columbus take over and get into the RSL end for a deep throw in but it goes right back out for a RSL throw in, and Rimando finally gets RSL moving in the right direction but then a slip by Beltran and Columbus are back on the attack. 

65-75 minutes

Turnover to RSL and they are trying to do somethign with it but Columbus seem more than happy to lay back and play the counter attack game when RSL turns it over.  Long ball to Findley and he goes at Iro who plays it out for a RSL corner kick, Andy takes the kick but it is a bit long and Columbus clear it out.  Javi gets his first touch of the night but it goes back over to Columbus and they play a long ball in but Russell clears it out.

It looks like a really good crowd at Crew Stadium despite the bad weather, chilly and rainy all night.  Columbus looks to build their attack and it is broken up by RSL and a foul by Hejduk and RSL restarts its attack again.  Russells ball is a bit long but RSL find a way to keep the ball in the Crew half of the pitch but the Johnson pass is long and out for a Crew throw in.  The Crew are back on the attack and Russell gets taken down from behind by Rogers, but he appears to be OK.  Some nice passing by RSL and when they play it into the area it is broken up but they keep possession until a Borchers ball is too long for Saborio and the goal kick by Hesmer goes right to Rimando and now RSL is setting up their attack again, the Crew are doing little attacking when RSL has the ball in their own half of the pitch as they look to protect their lead.

75-85 minutes

RSL's Nick Rimando looks to start the attack again, but it is going to be hard for RSL as it is clear that the only offense Columbus wants to play is the counter or when RSL makes a mistake in their own half, other than that they are content to let RSL control most of the match as long as they don't get dangerous.  Gonzalez comes in for Beltran as RSL are clearly looking to get on the scoreboard tonight.  Columbus attack and a clearance by Russell goes out for a Crew corner kick and GBS will line up another set piece, punched away by Rimando the rebound shot by Moffat goes out for a goal kick.

The Crew have started attacking a bit more and RSL plays a long ball and a handball call against Iro but where was he was, just outside of the box and RSL get a very dangerous free kick and it looks like Andy and Nelson are both lining up for it.  Nelson takes the shot, a great save by Hesmer but RSL keep it in and Beckerman plays it in and Johnson puts it into the net but the offside flag goes up and the replay shows clearly that he was onside.  The call will as we said get reviewed, pointed out that it was bad and then nothing will be done as it will be too late to put the goal back on the scoreboard.  A shot by Javi goes just wide of the goal as he looks to have had Hesmer beat.

85-final

It is hard to come back against a team playing so much defense, but even harder when the equalizer is pulled off the scoreboard.  Garey will come on for Lenhart, and this could be dangerous as Steven Garey has scored 4 times against RSL.  A free kick for the Crew about 20 yards outside of the area as the rain really picks back up again, GBS one more time sets up for the kick and now he wastes a bunch of time complaining about the wall.  Out for a Crew throw in.  Another foul called on Nelson and yet one more free kick and the play slows down once again as the Crew waste every second they can.  GBS one more time but it is cleared by RSL but the Crew keep possession until Kyle plays it long to Robbie and Hesmer pushes his shot out for a corner kick.  RSL wastes that chance but keep possession and the ball is bouncing around the area but eventually out for a goal kick.

RSL get it back deep in their own end and they play a silly long ball but Hesmer misplays it and it goes out for a throw in, so RSL keeps possession but the offside flag goes up on Johnson and the Crew make a sub as GBS goes out and slowly at that and Burns comes on.  The officials have seen through the time wasting as 5 minutes of stoppage time has been issued and RSL will get a few more chances to get something going.  Russell deep and gets another corner kick for RSL, now you need a qualify effort off this one, good ball by Nelson cleared but RSL kept possession and Johnson plays it back in but off Saborio for a goal kick.

RSL keeps possession, Javie gets it deep and an foul called on Saborio on Iro but you can clearly both were pulling on each other, so why does the call go one way vs. the other.  RSL again deep in the Crew half of the ptich.  Kyle fires a shot but out for another goal kick. A long ball into the RSL end of the pitch but a strange call gives the Crew another corner kick and they of course take their time.  Wow now another bad call as Garey played the ball out and the Crew were gifted a throw in and the final whistle blows and the Crew win 1-0.

So the wildcard comes clear as the officals was the deciding factor in giving a PK on very light contact and then making a bad offside call on the Johnson goal.  Unlike others who would call for a lynching in a public square when calls go against them, I will simply state that MLS needs to do something to improve the overall quality of their officials as far too many matches are being decided not by the players but by the officials.

OFF MY SOAPBOX