Morales' brace leads RSL to 2-0 win over Columbus
SANDY, Utah – Javier Morales scored a brace and Real Salt Lake beat Eastern Conference-leading Columbus 2-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday night in a rematch of the past two MLS champions.
RSL struck just 11 minutes in as Fabian Espindola found his fellow Argentine Morales with acres to work on a short corner kick. Morales appeared to move in to float a cross to his fellow attackers, but instead he found a seam and blasted the ball to the far post, easily beating Crew goalkeeper William Hesmer.
Columbus didn’t get off their first shot until the 31st minute on a long-distance blast by Danny O’Rourke. The Crew did, however, nearly score a few minutes later when Steven Lenhart received a cross into the box, and managed to get a backwards header on the ball toward the far post. The unorthodox shot required a strong diving save by goalkeeper Nick Rimando to keep his net clear.
Real Salt Lake dominated much of the possession in the opening half and limited Columbus to just three shots, and went into the break with a 1-0 advantage.
Columbus came out with much more attacking fight in the second half, creating a couple of good chances early on. In the 54th minute, Adam Moffat challenged Rimando with a left-footed strike that forced the RSL ‘keeper to once again come up with an acrobatic diving save.
However, Eric Brunner's foul on Ned Grabavoy in a dangerous area gve Morales a free kick from just outside the area in the 59th minute, and he capitalized. Morales hit a low shot that went through the wall and bounded past Hesmer to give RSL a 2-0 advantage.
Columbus were left playing catch-up and kept pressing hard. Their best chance of the night came in the 87th minute off a chip by substitute forward Leandre Griffit, who caught Rimando off his line. But the RSL 'keeper made a last minute leap that preserved the clean sheet.
RSL -- Javier Morales 5 (Fabian Espindola 2) 11
RSL -- Javier Morales 6 (unassisted) 60
CLB -- Frankie Hejduk (caution; Reckless Tackle) 48
Columbus Crew -- William Hesmer, Frankie Hejduk (Jason Garey 81), Eric Brunner, Chad Marshall, Shaun Francis, Emilio Renteria (Leandre Griffit 56), Adam Moffat, Danny O'Rourke, Emmanuel Ekpo, Steven Lenhart, Guillermo Barros Schelotto (Dilly Duka 75).
Substitutes Not Used: Kevin Burns, Duncan Oughton, Andy Gruenebaum.
Real Salt Lake -- Nick Rimando, Robbie Russell, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Tony Beltran, Ned Grabavoy (Nelson Gonzalez 82), Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales (Andy Williams 63), Will Johnson, Robbie Findley (Pablo Campos 72), Fabian Espindola.
Substitutes Not Used: Jean Alexandre, Alvaro Saborio, Chris Wingert, Kyle Reynish.
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Craig Lowry; Ian Anderson
4th Official: Yader Reyes
Time of Game: 1:51