2/22/11: Sitting in my hotel room trying to warm up after attending the first leg of the CONCACAF quarterfinal match between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake in Columbus, Ohio. Don't know what the temperature was, but at least it wasn't windy. I'm guessing 25 degrees at best.
I'm a Crew season ticket holder so please excuse my bias towards the Crew as I write this.
I really didn't expect much from the Crew this match. Their roster has changed dramatically since last season and based on the fact that Real Salt Lake was very strong last year and fielded essentially the same team as last year I felt that a 1 goal loss was the best that the Crew would do tonight.
I was pleasantly surprised and ultimately disappointed in how the match turned out. It ended in a 0-0 draw. Suprising in that the Crew was missing William Hesmer in goal, Shaun Francis at left back and Chad Marshall at centerback, yet played very well in the first half in dominating Real Salt Lake. Disappointing in that Real Salt Lake was a man down for the last 38 minutes of the match (a second caution resulting in a red card in the 52nd, then both teams receiving red cards in the 72nd) yet the Crew couldn't mount a sustained attack to get a home goal. They looked pretty tired in the second half.
The Crew will have a chance to advance when they play the second leg March 1st in Salt Lake City. Away goals are a tie-breaker in the elimination rounds this year, so a 1-1 draw would do the trick for the Crew in the match.
Who stood out for the Crew tonight? Rich Balchan at center back, Sebastian Miranda at right back and Emmanuel Ekpo in the midfield.
Who struggled for the Crew? Josh Gardner at left back
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