The electricity that most of Columbus is missing seemed to find its way to Columbus Crew Stadium Saturday evening just in time to spark the Columbus Crew to a dominating 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake in front of a season-high crowd of 19,674.
A power outage caused the match to be delayed by an hour following Friday’s storms which at one point blacked out nearly half of Franklin County per AEP. Power was restored to the stadium around 5:30 p.m. Saturday
RSL came in as a tired bunch as the team hotel near Polar Fashion Place was without power for 25 hours following the storm. The group looked tired and lethargic against a very energetic bunch of Crew players.
Eddie Gaven provided the biggest flash for the Crew as he had a goal and a number of opportunities to put the ball in the net. Tony Tchani added a goal in the victory.
“I kind of laid around the house not knowing if the game was going to be played,” Gaven said. “You still have to get ready as if the game was going to be played… Our guys did that and (the delay) wasn’t a big deal for us.”
The win puts Columbus above .500 with a 6-5-4 ledger. Salt Lake drops to 10-6-2. The Crew had a six-game unbeaten streak before falling at Chicago last weekend.
Both squads had nine shots but Columbus had better chances than Salt Lake.
Tchani put the Crew on the board in the 16th minute to set the tone. Forward Emilio Renteria’s pass into the box to Tchani was well spotted as Tchani was wide open to the left of Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando. Tchani beat Rimando to score his second goal as a member of the Crew.
“My team helped me out,” Tchani said. “It wasn’t on me, I waited for that ball and it happened to be there and I just hit it.”
The Crew surged to a 2-0 lead in the closing minutes of the first half. Chris Birchall’s corner kick was perfectly placed to defender Josh Williams who quickly found Gaven. Gaven touched the ball and fired the ball off the crossbar. The ball deflected into the net and gave Gaven his team-leading fourth goal of the campaign.
“It was hot today so we wanted to use our early energy to get that goal to get that cushion and take the pressure off the defense,” Gaven said. “We also didn’t give them any time to play. Once they start playing, the game can get very, very difficult.”
“We squeezed the field (in the first half),” Crew coach Robert Warzycha said. “We didn’t give them too much room to play.”
After the Crew’s powerful first half, the defense was strong in the second half. Crew defender Danny O’Rourke had the biggest defensive play of the game with his goalmouth block midway through the second half. The shot was the only one RSL had on target in the second half.
“Last week was the complete opposite,” Williams said. “We wanted to come out and make a point and at home, we want to score early. If we put that second goal on them, like we did today, it forces them to regroup in the second half. I thought we came out with more energy and stuck it to them in the second half.”
Notes: The match nearly was the second time in as many seasons Real Salt Lake had a game postponed. Last year, it had a match cancelled at Vancouver. During the week, the Crew waived defenders Shaun Francis, Korey Veeder, and Aubrey Perry. Only Francis had appeared in any MLS matches.
J. Justin Boggs, Columbus Wired