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Crew SC struggle again but hold on for a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake

Three points is three points for the Black & Gold.

How did Columbus Crew SC play in tonight’s win? Hear what Gregg Berhalter has to say postgame.

Posted by Massive Report on Saturday, June 30, 2018

After a nine-match unbeaten run in Major League Soccer play, Columbus Crew SC returned home on Saturday night on the back of two consecutive losses and no wins in five games. The Black & Gold reversed the trend with a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake thanks to goals from Gyasi Zardes and Eduardo Sosa.

It didn’t take long for Crew SC to break a scoreless drought of over 200 minutes. Just four minutes into the match, winger Luis Argudo was fouled inside the penalty box on a corner kick and referee Drew Fischer pointed to the spot for a penalty kick to the home side. With Federico Higuain, the usual penalty kick taker, out due to injury, Zardes stepped up and put the Black & Gold up 1-0 from eight yards out after just just six minutes.

While Crew SC kept control of the match for the most part, Salt Lake weren’t completely out of things after giving up the early goal. The visitors had a good chance in the 14th minute when midfielder Jefferson Savarino fired a shot from outside the penalty box. The effort took a skip, but was saved by goalkeeper Jon Kempin.

Nine minutes later and Columbus doubled the lead. A quick switch of the field from Artur found fullback Harrison Afful on the right side. He played a quick ball down the line to winger Pedro Sanots who knocked a square ball to Sosa. The Higuain deputy fired a rocket shot that found the back of the net for the 2-0 advantage.

Crew SC allowed RSL to take control of the match after going up by two but didn’t concede. That control didn’t change much to start the second half.

A good shot from left back Hector Jimenez early in the second 45 minutes was a highlight from a second half that left much to be desired from the home side.

In the 68th minute, Kempin came up big to keep Salt Lake off the board. The goalkeeper dove to his left to deny a shot from Real attacker Albert Rusnak. But five minutes later, Rusnak would not be denied. A series of RSL passes in and around the Crew SC penalty area found the forward with a tap in from the center of the box to half the deficit.

With just three minutes remaining, Salt Lake almost completed the comeback. Rusnak found himself with the ball and time on the back post, but fired his shot wide from close range.

As the clock counted down on the match, and its nine minutes of stoppage time, Crew SC continued to hang on despite an inability to keep possession or create any offensive chances. The best opportunity came on a late run by second half substitute Niko Hansen, who streaked down the left-hand side, but fired his shot wide.

In the end, the Black & Gold picked up three much-need points, but no one who played in this game for Columbus will be happy with the overall performance.

First start, first goal

Eduarod Sosa has slowly made his presence felt with Crew SC halfway through his debut season. An ankle injury delayed his first minutes for the Black & Gold, but recently the attacking midfielder has started to find his rhythm. On Saturday, he earned his first start, replacing the injured Federico Higuain and played a crucial part in Columbus’ attack.

Sosa not only scored his first goal for the club, but was a factor in many of the offensive moments, running at defenders and causing some havoc. While he doesn’t offer the same technical ability as Higuain, Sosa can certainly be a problem for MLS defenders when called upon.

Return of Gaston

Crew SC fans got a taste of Gaston Sauro in his return from a nearly two-year injury with his 13 minutes off the bench in the 0-0 draw with Sporting Kansas City on May 27. He also made a start in the penalty kick shootout loss to the Chicago Fire in the U.S. Open Cup. But on Saturday, Sauro started his first MLS game since the injury and played the full 90 minutes.

Although there was a little bit of rust still to be shaken off, and the player was admittedly tired near the end of the match, Sauro looked good and will add depth to an already solid center back group.

What’s next

Following a Tuesday friendly against Saprisa at MAPFRE Stadium, Crew SC go back out to the West Coast next weekend, taking on Los Angeles’ other team in the LA Galaxy. That match will kickoff at 10:30 p.m. ET from the StubHub Center.