RSL 0 – Crew 2: Everything Soccer in Columbus Should Be*
The Crew dominated on the field and the fan support was superb. I enjoyed seeing a Crew team starting several reserves soundly defeat Real Salt Lake. It was a strange sensation to head to the stadium expect a win and then watching the team dismantle an inferior opponent.
The offense got started quickly with Rogers finding Moffat in front of goal. Moffat’s shot was blocked as was Ekpo’s follow up. It was a precursor to what would follow. Moreno found space behind the RSL defense, but was unable to get a shot off. Rogers also continued to give the oppositions fits. Reserve Steven Lenhart would have a couple of breakaway attempts before making the third one count to put the Crew up 1-0. The Crew maintained a healthy lead in possession, periodically probing the defense, but able to double the total before the half ended.
The Crew and RSL’s Dema Kovalenko would ensure the result early in the second half. Ekpo and Kovalenko would get tangled up with a foul called on Ekpo. Kovalenko then threw/tossed the ball at Ekpo’s face right infront of the sideline assistant. Ekpo dropped to the ground as if he were shot, and a tussle started. Kovalenko was shown a red card. Ekpo, recovering at great speed, got off the ground and was able to continue.
Rogers would effectively end the game a few minutes later. Taking the ball into the left corner, Rogers drew two RSL defenders. Using left back Ryan Junge as a decoy, Rogers then broke toward goal. He unleashed a rocket from the left side of the top of the 18 yard box that curled past ‘keeper Nick Rimando, caromed off the post and fell in. It was probably the best shot I have seen live. Too bad there was no television coverage; it was definitely a goal for the highlight reel.
The Crew would exert tremendous pressure on RSL throughout the second half, however they would not add to their tally. A combination of a comedy of finishing errors and Nick Rimando would keep the score at 2-0. I would imagine that Rimando has had a few choice words for his defense as he was left to deal with multiple breakaway opportunities.
It turned into a (near) perfect night for soccer. Even the dirty play of Kovalenko or Salt Lake defender Matias Mantilla (who tried to distract Rogers by blowing him kisses and got into a tussle with the biggest guy on the team Andy Iro) could not detract from an excellent night for Crew fansh. I think that Chivas USA will provide a stiffer test for the Crew this Saturday, but I will certainly enjoy the complete performance the team put forth. The Crew return to Open Cup action with a qualifier against Chicago on June 10th.
* Except for the total attendance. Under 5000 people is pretty sorry.