Thursday, November 5, 2009

Game Over. Season Over ... For Columbus

In surprising fashion, Real Salt Lake came from behind 2-0 in this game to upset the reigning champs, Columbus Crew by a 3-2 margin to win the series and move on to the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Crew opened the scoring in the 19th minute with a bizarre goal. Schelotto took a long free kick, and appeared to pick out a teammate in the box, but it went over his head and bounced inside the box. Rimando was left flat-footed and the ball bounded by him as he made a late dive to his left.

In the 35th minute, the Crew appeared set to pull away from the visitors as they scored off of a second mistake. A poor clearance from defender Robbie Russell led to Schelotto having the ball in a dangerous area, just outside of the box. He teed it up, and whipped a curling ball past Rimando into the right side of the goal. With RSL's poor road record this year, it was easy to assume that it was lights out for them.

RSL proved this theory wrong as they made a beautiful team play in the 37th minute. They made several quick passes around the final third. The final pass came with a short chip from Beckerman that found Morales alone behind the defense. He kept it low, and was able to put it away past Hesmer.

In the waning minutes of the half, Real Salt Lake received a penalty kick as Hejduk clearly took Espindola down in the box. Findley stepped up and easily put the ball past Hesmer.

In the second half, Columbus was pressing to score the series equalizer. However, it was RSL who put the game away with a goal by Andy Williams. The play came off of a short corner that Williams appeared to just be putting into the area. Eerily similar to the opening goal by Schelotto it bounded past everyone, catching the keeper by surprise and sneaking into the far corner of the goal.

Despite frantic pressure from that point on, Columbus couldn't find the net, and ended up on the wrong side of the upset.

RSL will play the winner of New England/Chicago this weekend in the Eastern Conference Finals. Either will be a road game, and RSL would need to accomplish something they've done only once before: win back-to-back road games.