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Real Salt Lake can’t overcome early deficit, lose 2-1 in Columbus

In a tale of two halves, RSL looked like a different team in the final 30 minutes but it wasn’t enough to climb out of the hole they found themselves in thanks to two goals from Columbus early in the game.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Columbus Crew SC Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Despite a late-game surge after a lackluster 60 minutes, Real Salt Lake wasn’t able to claw back from an early two-goal deficit in Columbus as they dropped a 2-1 result to the Crew SC at MAPFRE Stadium tonight, thanks to a pair of first-half goals from Gyasi Zardes and Eduardo Sosa.

In an interesting lineup twist, Mike Petke opted to start Damir Kreilach at the center forward position in lieu of Corey Baird, who started this match on the bench. It’s also worth noting that Justen Glad made the starting lineup as well after a concussion scare last week that forced him to sub out early in the San Jose game.

It didn’t take long for the scoring to start when Columbus earned themselves a penalty kick after Danny Acosta shoved Luis Argudo down in the box. Gyasi Zardes stepped up to the penalty spot and calmly put the ball in the back of the net, sending Nick Rimando diving the opposite direction. The home side took an early 1-0 lead in the sixth minute of play.

The Crew doubled their lead in the 22nd minute when they got a chance for a counter attack. Pedro Santos was streaking down the right side with the ball, when he was able to slide a ground pass into the box to an unmarked Eduardo Sosa. Sosa let a first-time shot rip toward the net, right past Rimando and into the upper 90, good for a 2-0 lead early in the first half. This was Sosa’s first-ever MLS start and his first-ever MLS goal.

Rusnak had a decent chance in the 28th minute when Savarino earned a foul just outside the Columbus 18 yard box. Albert took the free kick, bent it right over the wall and put the shot on frame, forcing Kempin to dive but ultimately saved it, keeping the clean sheet for his team.

The first half finished 2-0, with the Crew firmly in the lead and on the front foot over a struggling Real Salt Lake.

First Half Stats

Shots RSL: 3 / CLB: 5
Shots On Goal RSL: 2 / CLB: 3
Possession RSL: 53.5% / CLB: 46.5%
Passing RSL: 81% / CLB: 81%

Columbus defender Hector Jimenez opened the second half with a dangerous chance from about 25 yards out. With what seemed like all the time in the world, he lined up a shot and put it on target just under the crossbar, but luckily Rimando was there and able to tip the ball over the top of the goal and out for a corner kick.

After Joao Plata was brought on in the 61st minute, RSL began to see a little more life with a couple of solid chances right in a row. Rusnak hit a shot directly at Crew ‘keeper Jon Kempin which was deflected out for a corner kick, and then shortly after that, Plata ended up with the ball unmarked in a 3-on-2 situation on the left side of the box. He ripped a shot that curled up and toward the upper corner far post, but it went just wide of the goal.

Rusnak had another fantastic chance just minutes later as he chased down a ball sent in toward the goal. He grabbed it and tried to send it right past Kempin who was rushing toward him, but the ball deflected off Kempin’s arm and went out for another corner kick. Nonetheless, this was more attacking play than we’d seen from RSL over the previous 40 minutes or so and they were starting to show some signs of life.

The hard work finally paid off in the 74th minute, thanks to some great team play that ended with Plata sending a quick ball into the middle of the box to find Albert Rusnak, who took a one-time quick shot that went directly into the back of the net, pulling one back for the visitors, setting the score at 2-1 with 16+ minutes left to play.

With an unprecedented nine minutes of stoppage time added to the second half, RSL would fight tooth and nail to find an equalizer.

It wouldn’t come, unfortunately, and the game ended 2-1 in favor of Columbus, snapping a five-game winless skid for the home side.

Real Salt Lake returns home to Rio Tinto Stadium on Wednesday for the second of three games in only eight days as they host Western Conference rivals Sporting Kansas City.

Overall Stats

Shots RSL: 10 / CLB: 13
Shots On Goal RSL: 4 / CLB: 4
Possession RSL: 58.8% / CLB: 41.2%
Passing RSL: 82% / CLB: 78%


Scoring

6’ CLB — Gyasi Zardes (PK)
22’ CLB — Eduardo Sosa (Pedro Santos, Harrison Afful)
74’ RSL — Albert Rusnak (Joao Plata)

Lineups

RSL: Rimando; Lennon (L Silva 86’), M Silva, Glad, Acosta; Beckerman (c), Sunny; Savarino, Rusnak, Saucedo (Plata 61’); Kreilach (Baird 68’)

CLB: Kempin; Afful, Mensah, Sauro, Jimenez; Trapp, Artur (Clark 90’); Santos (Hansen 69’), Sosa (Abubakar 79’), Argudo; Zartes

Discipline

56’ RSL — Kyle Beckman — yellow card
65’ CLB — Eduardo Sosa — yellow card
90’+1’ RSL — Jefferson Savarino — yellow card