Running Diary: Crew vs. Real Salt Lake

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

7:30 “Maybe just a tad too much vibrato there.” — A colleague chimes in on tonight’s rendition of the national anthem.

7:31 Your Crew starters: Will Hesmer (aka Ricky Bobby), Frankie Hejduk, Marcos Gonzalez, Chad Marshall, Rusty Pierce, Jacob Thomas, Ned Grabavoy, Danny O’Rourke, Stefani Miglioranzi, Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Alejandro Moreno.

7:34 Salt Lake’s starters: Nick Rimando, Jean-Martial Kipre, Eddie Pope, Daniel Torres, Richie Kotschau, Carey Talley, Atiba Harris, Andy Williams, Mehdi Ballouchy, Alecko Eskandarian, Robbie Findley. Are we sure this isn’t DC United? Also, apologies to people who read the Alive this week and expected Freddy Adu to be here—forgot about the U-20 World Cup. Woops.

7:37 We have kickoff.

7:38 So far Rusty Pierce’s head has the most touches. Marshall fouls to set up a dangerous RSL free kick opportunity, but it turns out to not be dangerous at all.

7:40 Oh my God, I forgot Jason Kreis was Salt Lake’s coach now. So many former stars are taking the reins.

7:41 Not sure why Andy Williams feels compelled to wear long sleeves out there. Reminds me of this time when I ran Race for the Cure in high school and I forgot there was nowhere to put my letter jacket, so I had to run the whole race wearing the thing.

7:43 Rusty Pierce shows some tenacity in stripping Carey Talley, then Carey re-Talley-ates with a hacksaw tackle from behind that earns him a yellow card. Not sure how Ezra Hendrickson’s red card offense out in LA was any worse than that.

7:46 A beautiful strike from O’Rourke gets blocked out for a corner. On the restart, Gonzalez’s header goes over the crossbar.

7:48 Thomas (incredibly) makes two great passes in a row—a perfectly threaded through ball and a cute give-and-go—but neither one can spring a scoring chance.

7:49 Gonzalez: all-star caliber defender. If and when he gets snubbed, it will be one of the greatest all-star snubs in the history of all-star snubs.

7:52 Grabavoy draws a dangerous free kick opportunity, but Thomas blasts it straight into Rimando’s waiting arms.

7:54 Rusty Pierce on the attack! He does a give-and-go with Migs then sends in a killer cross that Thomas blasts over the bar. That’s the Thomas I know—all power, no control—but where did that flourish by Rusty come from? So far he is proving that he deserves to start, proving his naysayers, including me, wrong.

7:57 Pope straight up American football tackles Moreno to diffuse a potential breakaway. Apparently this is not a foul.

7:58 Now Williams slides into Moreno from behind. The officiating crew also deems this appropriate.

8:01 Time for another free kick for the Crew, this time from the right. Schelotto’s cross goes wanting.

8:02 Good run from Williams, but Marshall pulls out a Brian Maissoneuve-style slide tackle to save the day.

8:03 Pope’s killer defending is the only thing that keeps Moreno from scoring.

8:05 Late call there! Migs knocks down Eskandarian, resulting in another big RSL free kick. Nice double-team block from Hejduk and Schelotto.

8:06 Hejduk speeds down the right and feeds Thomas, whose toe-tap is wide right but sends Rimando sprawling anyway. Thomas is leading the Crew in shots by far—he’s taken the last four in a row.

8:07 A laser beam Stern Turn from Moreno sends Rimando sprawling yet again. That one seemed bound for the back of the net. Thomas’ rebound shot also fails to find the promised land.

8:09 Rusty is apparently done playing offense now.

8:11 Nice steal from Schelotto, who drives into the box and plays a ball perfectly to Moreno’s foot. Moreno, however, sends it straight at Rimando from point-blank range. Bummer.

8:12 The ref is letting RSL get away with all sorts of tomfoolery tonight.

8:13 Migs does a little rainbow thing to pass the ball to himself, then lofts a loopy pass into the box, but Moreno can’t quite get around his defender before Rimando scoops it up. Have I mentioned how much better Miglioranzi’s play has been lately? He’s one of the best players on the field pretty much every time out.

8:16 Apparently Eskandarian beat the offside trap, but his flailing cross is no problem for Ricky Bobby.

8:18 This is when they used to say “Time for another Motorists’ Insurance corner kick.” Not sure what happened just now, but it ended with Hejduk launching the ball into orbit.

8:20 Eskandarian just shot from so far out that he must have thought Ricky Bobby was asleep. The ball comes nowhere near the net.

8:22 We’re at halftime and still scoreless.

8:37 Aaaand we’re back.

8:42 First real danger of the second half comes from RSL, but Ricky Bobby comes out to intercept at the top of the box.

8:43 That, my friends, should have been a goal for the Crew.

8:46 Ballouchy grabs Schelotto by the face, but he only gets a yellow. Promising aerial work on the free kick goes for naught.

8:48 Schelotto plays a sweet curling through ball, but nobody makes a run to meet the ball in stride. This game better not end without a Crew goal.

8:50 Heart stopped for a moment there as RSL seemed ready to score.

8:53 Schelotto creeps up the left side and receives a long ball. He dribbles into the box but has to wait for his teammates to catch up. He goes down, but there’s no PK, much to his chagrin.

8:55 Time for another Crew free kick. Thomas fails to get a proper header off, though Schelotto played the ball right to him.

8:56 Apparently I missed when Eddie Gaven came on for Grabavoy and RSL’s Chris Brown entered for Findley.

8:59 The two players responsible for the Crew’s only goal in three games are still not on the pitch. As I type that, Andy Herron runs over as if ready to come in. It could be high time for Kei time as well.

9:01 Another thwarted attack! That failure was particularly frustrating. At least Sigi is making the golden substitution of Herron for Thomas.

9:04 And again! Marshall’s header on a Schelotto free kick glides just barely over the top. They’ve gotta convert one of these soon…

9:05 And they do! But Eddie Gaven is offside. Insert your favorite profanity here.

9:06 Herron streaks to receive Moreno’s throw-in and gets cut down in the box. It’s PK time!

9:07 Shooting today will be Guillermo Barros Schelotto. And it’s a goal!

9:08 Not sure how Sigi can justify starting Thomas over Herron when Herron has created the last two Crew goals and, oh yeah, is a spark pretty much every time he’s on the field.

9:09 Yellow card for Eskandarian. And another one for Kipre. “They’re falling apart!” one press box colleague exclaims.

9:10 Goal for Gaven! Moreno speeds down the left and makes a fool of his cromagnon defender, then lifts a cross to Gaven, who contorts his body to put the ball on frame.

9:13 RSL has completely broken down mentally. It’s quite comical.

9:18 Andy Williams exits in favor of… didn’t catch who. The Crew has mostly launched a series of attacks in during the last few minutes, with scant RSL chances to match.

9:21 Kei Kamara is coming on for Moreno so we can give the Venezuelan an ovation.

9:22 Three minutes of stoppage time.

9:23 The ball just barely sneaks by Gaven’s head. This has been an entertaining half of attacking by the Crew. Did I mention they are about to have a winning record?

9:24 Red card to Eskandarian. Sucks to be him.

9:25 We have a winner! 2-0 Crew. Unbeaten in six. Ready to take on the world.