In the return leg, the Crew have their work cut out for them.Who: Columbus Crew and Real Salt Lake
What: 2009 MLS playoffs, first round, second leg
When: 8:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, November 5
Where: Crew Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
A late goal by Robbie Findley in the dying minutes of the first leg sent shockwaves through the MLS playoffs as the defending champs go into the second match in quite a precarious position.
Yura Movsisyan sneaked a quick ball into the box that needed only a Findley redirection to put Real Salt Lake in the driver seat in the series. Both teams were uninspired and lethargic in the first match, with the Crew seemingly playing for the scoreless draw.
Going into the second leg, a few things have to be considered. First of all, Columbus are the reigning MLS champions and do not like to lose matches at home. Only two losses out of 15 played in front of their fans prove this.
Couple the Crew’s home field dominance with the fact that Real Salt Lake experienced 11 road losses this season and the advantage has to go to Columbus. In the corresponding regular season fixture, Columbus took it to RSL, beating them 3-1 on a pair of goals by Jason Garay.
In a move that shocked many in the first leg, Crew coach Robert Warzycha decided to leave his two top offensive threats, Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Alejandro Moreno, on the bench. Both players should be back for this match and will provide the scoring punch that the Crew need to get back into this series.
It cannot be forgotten, however, that Real Salt Lake were in this exact same position last season having won the first leg of their conference semifinal series with Chivas USA 1-0. They then traveled to the Home Depot Center and tied 2-2, knocking the Goats out of the post-season.
Guillermo Barros Schelotto, Columbus Crew: Unlike the preview for the first leg, Schelotto should actually take the pitch and be a real menace for a Real Salt Lake defense that gave up 24 goals on the road this season.
Robbie Findley, Real Salt Lake: The goal-scorer in game one will be looking for more in the return leg. Easily RSL’s best player last Saturday, the talented striker will look to break down the determined center back tandem of Chad Marshall and Eric Brunner.
Columbus 2-1 Real Salt Lake
RSL needs to win or tie the match.
Columbus needs to win by two clear goals or more. In the event of a one-goal win for the Crew, the match will go into extra time and (if needed) penalty kicks.
Shane Evans, Goal.com
For more on the Major League Soccer playoffs, including live commentary, player ratings, and reactions from this match, visit Goal.com's MLS page