Crew SC started as well as they could have hoped and grabbed an early lead. Connor Maloney, making his first MLS start, sent in a cross that forced a scrambled clearance from the Real Salt Lake rearguard. The ball fell to Maloney again and he calmly picked out Kamara. The Norwegian clinically finished the play to give Crew SC the lead in the 15th minute.
Real Salt Lake was on the front foot for most of the rest of the half. The home side had 70% possession as halftime approached. Salt Lake wasn’t able to really test the steadfast Crew SC defense until the 45th minute. Albert Rusnak sent a ball that forced Zack Steffen to come out and deal with the danger. The rebound fell to Savarino who's shot was blocked by Alex Crognale.
The home side would come out of the locker room and turn the game. The first goal would come off a penalty. Josh Williams got called for a handball. Plata finished to tie the game at 1-1 in the 50th minute.
Real Salt Lake would take the lead just three minutes later on a quick counter. Savarino found space on the right side without any coverage. Nicolai Naess wasn’t able to rotate quickly enough to close him down and the Salt Lake winger finshed the shot with ease.
Crew SC wasn’t done and would answer in the 60th minute with Ola Kamara creating the magic again. Ola took the ball into the RSL half and found Ethan Finlay making a run. The winger rounded Nick Rimando, but his shot rang the crossbar. Kamara paused and chopped a side volley into the ground as to not overhit the ball and sent it past the scrambling backline.
For the remaining half hour it seemed like a winner was there for both teams. Kamara had a perfect chance to record a hat trick as Naess sent a beautiful ball that freed the forward, but he sent his one on one chance against Rimando wide. Kekuta Manneh would send in a shot that was redirected off of the crossbar in the 77th minute while Rusnak went down on the other end and rang the post just seconds later.
After the flurry of action, both teams were spent and neither could really test the keeper.
The final three
Gregg Berhalter suggested that Crew SC might return to the 4-2-3-1 with only three available center backs, but Columbus lined up with a back three for the fourth consecutive game. Williams had a couple shaky moments, but otherwise he, Crognale, and Naess did well to handle the onslaught.
(Almost) All for naught
Crew SC had managed the game to perfection in the first half. They broke out quickly on the counter and forced Real Salt Lake into mostly poor shots, but they struggled out of the locker room. It went from 1-0 to 1-2 in a matter of three minutes. The home side were just about to run away with the game until Kamara led the counter and scored the tying goal.
The third game in a week and near coast to coast travel sapped the legs of many on this team. Kamara, Crognale, Justin Meram, Artur, Wil Trapp, and Kekuta Manneh played significant parts in all three games. After the midweek blowout, a gut wrenching, lead losing loss would have been devastating. This team dug down and pulled out a point. A point that stands for the effort that they put in against a rested and improving Salt Lake team.
Columbus finally get some rest as they have a week until the game in San Jose. The tie and Orlando City’s earlier tie keeps Crew SC above the red line in second place. San Jose is just below the red line. The game will kick off at 10:30 pm next Saturday.