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Reliving history: Crew vs. Real Salt Lake

With the future on hold, let’s look back in time.

Columbus Crew v Real Salt Lake Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/MLS via Getty Images

As you know, there was no Columbus Crew SC game this weekend as Major League Soccer and the rest of the sports world are on hiatus during the coronavirus outbreak. So instead of spending today looking at the Crew’s present and future, let’s look at their past with the team the Black & Gold were supposed to face: Real Salt Lake.

The Record

Columbus and Salt Lake have played against each other 26 times in all competitions. The Crew currently hold an edge in the head to head, with 12 wins, 5 draws, and 9 losses. In MLS play, the Black & Gold lead with a record of 12-4-6, in large part thanks to an outstanding home record of 9-1-1.

Two Salt Lake players are tied for the most goals against the Crew at six goals each in forward Robbie Findley and midfielder Javier Morales, who played for a combined 16 seasons with RSL. Columbus’ leading scorers against Real are Ola Kamara and Guillermo Barros Schelotto, each with five goals. Kamara is also the only Crew player with a hat trick against RSL.

Player Overlap

At least 13 players have spent time with both clubs (for those who might ask, Kei Kamara is not one of them). Of those 13, there are some notable standouts.

Fan-favorite Dante Washington had three stints with the Crew, scoring 28 goals and recording 14 assists in 76 regular season MLS games. At the end of his third time with Columbus, Washington spent part of the 2005 season with Real Salt Lake. He appeared in nine MLS games, getting two starts and recording one assist. During his career in MLS, Washington was also with FC Dallas (then the Dallas Burn) for four seasons.

Jeff Cunningham, the standout forward who is currently third all-time in MLS regular season goals with 134, spent eight seasons with the Crew, making more than 200 appearances for the club. In between his two stints with the team, Cunningham played in Dallas, with Toronto FC, and with the Colorado Rapids. He also spent a season and a half with Salt Lake from 2006-2007, logging 38 appearances, 19 goals and 11 assists.

To newer Crew fans, Justin Meram should be the most familiar name. Meram made over 200 appearances for the club, with 38 regular season goals and 34 assists, making him one of the most productive wingers in team history. He also briefly played with Orlando City SC and Atlanta United. During this past offseason, Meram signed with Real Salt Lake as a free agent and has so far made two appearances for the club.

Notable Games

Columbus and Salt Lake have played 26 times since RSL joined MLS in 2005, and there have been some big ones among them (although Crew fans might have tried to forget them).

The Crew were riding high going into the 2009 MLS Cup playoffs, having secured a second consecutive Supporters’ Shield after winning the MLS Cup the previous season. Any hopes of an MLS repeat were dashed, however, when the Black & Gold came up against Salt Lake in the conference semifinals. The first leg at RSL was mostly quiet until the 88th minute when Columbus gave up a late goal to Robbie Findley. Despite the first leg defeat, there was all to play for in the second leg back at Columbus Crew Stadium. But in an unpredictable upset, Salt Lake won the game 3-2 and took the series 4-2 on aggregate. This result was a shock to Crew fans and the rest of MLS, with the reigning champs going out in the first round. Findley, Javier Morales and Andy Williams scored for RSL, while Guillermo Barros Schelotto scored the two goals for Columbus.

Participating in the CONCACAF Champions League for only the third time in the team’s history, the Crew secured its bid in the 2010-11 edition by winning the Supporters’ Shield the year prior. The Black & Gold did well in their group stage, winning four of their six games, but once again came up against RSL in the quarterfinals. Both clubs fought to be the first MLS side to reach the CCL semifinals.

The first leg in Columbus was played on a frigid night in February and featured a testy 0-0 draw in which three players were sent off, Emilio Renteria from the Crew, and Tony Beltran and Nat Borchers from RSL. Despite the fierce draw in the first leg, things changed when the Black & Gold travelled to Utah. The second leg finished 4-1 on a much warmer day at the Rio Tinto Stadium. Andres Mendoza scored Columbus’ lone goal of the match, while Javier Morales scored two and Alvaro Saborio and Andy Williams each scored for Salt Lake.

While not on the same level as these tournament losses, the Crew’s match against Real in 2016 stands out as one of the few highlights from that season. Columbus struggled the entire season, ultimately finishing ninth in the Eastern Conference. This was a crazy game to cap off a wild month of May for the Black & Gold. The game was delayed due to lightning for 90 minutes and the Crew went down early but came storming back. Ola Kamara scored a hat trick and the Crew forced a Justin Glad own goal to emerge with a 4-3 victory. The crazy part is that Kamara could have scored more with all of the chances created. Salt Lake’s goals came from Luke Mulholland, Jordan Allen and Joao Plata.

We hope you enjoyed learning a bit about the history between the Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake in lieu of any real soccer matches this weekend. Let us know about some of your favorite games/memories between the Crew and RSL.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay Massive.

Stats come from a variety of sources, including Columbus Crew SC, Major League Soccer, and Transfermarkt. If you find an issue with any of the numbers mentioned, let us know.