As their five-game road trip winds down, Real Salt Lake (6-3-2, 20 points) is looking to grab a full three points for the second week in a row when they visit MAPFRE Stadium to take on the Columbus Crew (2-4-5, 11 points).
Despite Columbus being winless in their last four, and just having traded away their top goal scorer in Kei Kamara following the now infamous PK incident with Federico Higuain, RSL should not take this match lightly. Salt Lake got their first win last week of their last three, and only their second road win on the season.
RSL hasn’t won a regular season game in Columbus since 2006, although they did knock out the Crew on the road in the 2009 MLS Playoffs. They are 1-7-1 on the road against Columbus all-time. In the last five matchups between these two teams, Columbus leads the recent series at 2-1-2 — the one loss coming in the form of a 4-0 beating from RSL in August of 2013.
As previously mentioned, Columbus recently traded their star forward and designated player Kei Kamara to the New England Revolution as the clock struck 12 in the transfer window following a public disagreement between he and Higuain over a penalty kick a couple weeks ago.
Kamara isn’t the only player Columbus will be without this weekend, as starters Harrison Afful and Cedrick Mabwati will both be away on international duty with Ghana and the Republic of Congo, respectively. It was recently reported that defender Gaston Sauro will be out four to five months with a knee injury he picked up in the Crew’s scoreless draw with Toronto FC last weekend. Tony Tchani (left calf strain) and Tyson Wahl (concussion symptoms) both missed the game last Saturday and are still listed as questionable ahead of the RSL match.
RSL, however, almost couldn’t ask for a better situation.
Sure, they’ll be missing captain Kyle Beckerman who will be away with the US Men’s National Team, but that’s as far as it goes for missing players this weekend. The ability to field a nearly full-strength lineup in Columbus couldn’t come at a better time. Sunny played the full 90 minutes against Kansas City last week, so we can count on him starting again this Saturday, most likely alongside Luke Mulholland or even the more defensive-minded John Stertzer in Kyle’s place.
Yura Movsisyan, coming off a solid performance in Kansas City after being responsible for two goals, may be finding his form as we head into the summer stretch. RSL has shown how dangerous they can be when the attack is firing on all cylinders, and they’ll hope to keep that rolling in Columbus.
RSL’s center back game seems to be on point with the pairing of youngster Justen Glad and Aaron Maund. They are an impressive 5-0-0 when those two start together, and 1-3-2 when any other pair starts.
While Real Salt Lake may be fielding one of the strongest lineups we’ve seen in recent weeks (aside from SKC last week), nobody should be counting the absence-laden Columbus Crew out of this match before it starts.
The game kicks off this Saturday, May 28 at 5:30pm MT. RSL will then head to New York to face off against NYCFC at Yankee Stadium for the final game of their road stretch, after which they’ll head back home to Rio Tinto Stadium for six of their next eight games in regular season play.