COLUMBUS, Ohio – Real Salt Lake (6-1-7, 25 points, West #2) earned a critical road point on Wednesday, drawing 1-1 with Columbus Crew (4-5-5, 17 points, East #5) at Crew Stadium.
With RSL playing its second road game in four days and a third match looming on Saturday, paired with absences due to international duty and injury, RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar put out an unfamiliar looking lineup, starting the match in a 4-2-3-1 formation. DF Abdoulie Mansally, DF Carlos Salcedo and DF Rich Balchan earned the start in place of defensive regulars DF Tony Beltran, DF Nat Borchers and DF Chris Wingert.
MF Luis Gil gave Real Salt Lake the opening goal in the 56th minute, coolly finishing the rebound off a shot taken by Mansally to put RSL up 1-0. Heroics from RSL GK Jeff Attinella saw RSL through numerous late attacks but Crew FW Ethan Finlay eventually equalized for the home side in the 88th minute, deftly chipping a shot past a helpless Attinella.
Real Salt Lake got off to an energetic start, registering its first shot of the night in the first minute. RSL MF Javier Morales started the play, doing some nifty footwork in the midfield to lay off a pass to Gil who fired a shot from 25 yards out that flew wide of the net. Despite its bright start, the Claret-and-Cobalt took a while to adapt to the tactical switch, nearly conceding on several occasions throughout the first half.
Columbus had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 12th minute when referee Baldomero Toledo whistled RSL DF Rich Balchan for a questionable penalty kick. Balchan was called for the PK after Columbus MF Agustin Viana and Balchan both went down in the box during a Crew corner kick. Columbus FW Frederico Higuain stepped up to take the spot kick but sent his shot high over the crossbar.
RSL continued to have difficulty finding its offensive rhythm through the first half, but had its own call for a penalty kick in the 19th minute. RSL’s Morales tried to weave his way through the inside of the 18 yard box but was tripped up by two Crew defenders, but no call was given.
Columbus almost took the lead again a minute later. Crew DF Josh Williams smashed a bending volley from the right side of the box forcing what would be the first of many great diving saves from Attinella.
Real Salt Lake saw one of its best opportunities of the evening slip by in the 25th minute after some of its best buildup play in the first half. Morales was able to flick-on an entry pass from Mansally right into the path of RSL MF Ned Grabavoy, who found himself alone in the box. Columbus’ Williams did well to recover though and managed to dispossess Grabavoy of the ball.
Real Salt Lake’s defense was put to the test again in the 32nd minute. Columbus’ Higuain combined well with Crew FW Dominic Oduro after picking up a turnover in the middle of the field. Higuain played a through ball for Oduro inside the box but RSL DF Chris Schuler was there though to block the shot with his leg. The threat of Higuain wouldn’t last much longer as the Argentine playmaker was subbed off in the 44th minute after an apparent hamstring injury.
Real Salt Lake started the second half on the front foot, eventually resulting in the opening goal recorded by Gil in the 56th minute. The play started after a Morales corner kick was cleared to the top of the 18 yard box. RSL’s Mansally ran onto the ball and hammered a left-footed shot that forced a great diving save from Crew GK Steve Clark. Gil was there to pounce on the rebound and coolly finished a shot that went off the inside of the far post for his second goal of the year.
Being down a goal seemed to invigorate Columbus, who frantically searched for an equalizer for the rest of the second half. Attinella went on to have one of his best performances, making a total of five heroic saves in the last 45 minutes to keep RSL in the game.
An onslaught of chances for the Crew came in the last 15 minutes of play. In the 73rd minute, Columbus’ Williams made a great run down the right flank and blasted a shot forcing Attinella to come out and make an acrobatic one-handed save. Three minutes later, Crew MF Hector Jimenez collected a clearance at the top of the 18 yard box and volleyed a shot that seemed destined to the upper left corner of the goal. Attinella rose to the occasion and made another incredible one-handed diving save to send the ball out for a corner kick.
Columbus Crew MF Justin Meram had a pair of chances to net an equalizer in the closing minutes. In the 78th minute, Meram sent a curling rocket that Attinella again had to palm away. In the 84th minute, Meram found himself open in the box but RSL substitute Tony Beltran was able to tackle away the ball to deny the opportunity.
Columbus finally found the equalizer in the 88th minute. Crew substitute Ben Speas sent Crew FW Ethan Finlay streaking down the right wing with a great through ball. Attinella came out to try and deny the 1v1 situation but Finlay was able to chip the RSL goalkeeper to tie things up.
RSL will return to action on Saturday, when it will host Portland Timbers at 8:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. An extremely limited amount of tickets remain to Saturday’s match; they can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1–1 CLB
Box Score Notes:
- Tonight’s draw improves RSL to a 6-1-7 record through its first 14 matches of the season, keeping RSL second in the league and Western Conference with 25 points.
- Wednesday’s draw gives RSL a 5-10-2 all-time regular season record against Columbus Crew.
- Tonight marked the first deviation from RSL’s usual midfield diamond formation (4-1-2-1-2) this year. Head Coach Jeff Cassar opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation with FW Olmes Garcia the lone striker up top.
- RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar also put out a makeshift back line tonight that did not feature usual starters Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers and Chris Wingert. For the first time this year center back Chris Schuler was paired with DF Carlos Salcedo, who earned his first start of 2014 for the Claret-and-Cobalt tonight.
- RSL DF Rich Balchan and DF Abdoulie Mansally both earned their second starts of the year tonight. The two both last started in Real Salt Lake’s scoreless draw against Sporting Kansas City on April 5.
- RSL MF John Stertzer earned his first career start for the Claret-and-Cobalt on Wednesday night. Stertzer, who is in his second year with the club, had only made five substitute appearances for a total of 51 minutes of playing time prior to his start tonight.
- RSL MF Luis Gil was in the starting eleven, his first start this year since RSL’s scoreless draw against Sporting Kansas City on April 5, 2014.
- RSL backup GK Jeff Attinella earned his fifth start of the 2014 season Wednesday, filling in for veteran GK Nick Rimando. Attinella now posts a 1-1-4 record in 2014 and a 2-3-5 regular season record in his RSL career.
- RSL MF Cole Grossman recorded his sixth career start for the Claret-and-Cobalt Wednesday. The 25-year-old defensive midfielder replaced Captain Kyle Beckerman at the bottom of RSL’s midfield diamond with the U.S. international is away at the USMNT’s World Cup preparation camp in Palo Alto, Calif.
- Missing from today’s lineup were U.S. internationals Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando and Costa Rican international FW Alvaro Saborio. All three players left the club on May 14 for pre-World Cup training camps with their respective national teams. Beckerman and Rimando were named to the U.S.’s final 23-man World Cup roster on Thursday. Saborio suffered a fifth metatarsal fracture while training with the Costa Rican national team last week and will miss the World Cup and is scheduled to be out 3-4 months. Including today’s game, Beckerman and Rimando will miss a minimum of four regular season matches and at least one Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches before returning from Brazil. RSL is now 1-1-2 without all three of Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt is now 3-3-4 in MLS play when missing all three players since the start of 2013.
- RSL FW Joao Plata was missing from today’s lineup after reinjuring his left hamstring against FC Dallas. The Ecuadorian has six goals this season, which ties him for the team lead with FW Alvaro Saborio.
- Real Salt Lake has now started 20 different players in 2014
REAL SALT LAKE 1–1 COLUMBUS CREW
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 4, 2014
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
Columbus Crew 0 1 1
RSL – Luis Gil – 56’
CLB – Ethan Finlay (Ben Speas) – 88’
CLB – Eric Gehrig (Yellow; Foul) – 16’
Real Salt Lake (4-2-3-1): Jeff Attinella; Rich Balchan (Tony Beltran, 79’), Chris Schuler, Carlos Salcedo, Abdoulie Mansally; Cole Grossman, John Stertzer, Luis Gil (Luke Mulholland, 86’), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales; Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval, 72’)
Substitutes not used: Nat Borchers, Aaron Maund, Chris Wingert
Columbus Crew (4-3-2-1): Steve Clark; Bernardo Anor, Michael Parkhurst, Eric Gehrig, Josh Williams; Hector Jimenez (Ethan Finlay, 77’), Agustin Viana (Adam Bedell, 72’), Tony Tchani, Justin Meram; Federico Higuain (Ben Speas, 44’), Dominic Oduro
Substitutes not used: Matt lampson; Tyson Wahl, Dan Paladini, Chad Barson
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Scott Kachmarik
4th Official: Chris Penso
Weather: Cloudy and 62 degrees