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Eastern Conference Championship

For RSL, third time is not a charm

and scored both goals -- for a 2-0 victory.

Right back Frankie Hejduk scored both goals from Columbus in the first half from the foundation of a concentrated defensive effort that kept Real stifled as the Crew won for the first time since April 15.

With their recent defensive difficulties, the Crew clearly looked to defend in depth from the start and try and break on the counter. It was a third different tactical scheme from Crew coach Greg Andrulis in three games, playing Simon Elliott and Chris Wingert as twin holding midfielders with Kyle Martino and Mario Rodriguez leading the attack from wide positions, again in front of a back four.

Real had most of the possession in the opening 45 minutes, but it was two set pieces resulting from counters that gave the Crew the lead at the break.

Hejduk was the fortunate recipient of the first, though center back Chad Marshall was desperately unlucky not to score his first career MLS goal. A long run by Martino on the left won a free kick outside the edge of the box. Simon Elliott curled in the restart and Marshall rose up in the heart of the area, powering a header that D.J. Countess barely parried.

The ball came off the underside of the bar and back down on the fallen Real 'keeper, Hejduk quickly diving in to stab the ball the few inches over the line for his first goal of the campaign.

While Real struggled to break down the Crew defense, the home side had some good opportunities at the other. Mario Rodriguez sent in a weak roller after he escaped on the left in the 26th minute, then in the 32nd minute, after Cornell Glen had rounded Eddie Pope at the endline Real defender Nelson Akwari narrowly missed turning the ball into his own goal.

Then just minutes later, a last-ditch dive from Rusty Pierce blocked a Edson Buddle drive when he was almost in alone. That won a corner and the Crew struck again.

A short corner was played on the left where Elliott whipped in a cross and Hejduk rose up completely unmarked, heading the ball down just inside Countess's left-hand post.

The final pass was lacking throughout all the possession Real had in the first half, until Clint Mathis found Jason Kreis just in behind the back line. But Crew 'keeper Jon Busch was quick off his line to smother the ball at Kreis's feet.

After the break, it much of the same recipe for the Crew, as they completely denied RSL time and space while breaking on the counter. Columbus nearly hit for a third shortly after the break after Elliott was sprung with a long ball out of the Crew end. The New Zealand international threaded a perfect square pass to Glen in the area, but his side-foot volley was parried well by Countess.

In the 67th minute Martino escaped down the left and dribbled in alone on Countess from an angle. Instead of playing the ball back across goal he tried a shot, but Countess held his ground well.

The Crew were left a man down for the final 13 minutes when Glen was given a straight red card by referee Kevin Stott for a hard tackle on Rusty Pierce in the center circle. Glen had earlier felt he was fouled in the area on a tackle from Brian Dunseth that left him on the ground.

But the Crew held firm over the last minutes, as Busch was rarely threatened. His only tense moment came deep into stoppage time when Pierce hit a powerful rising drive on the run from the right that beat Busch, but skimmed off the top of the crossbar.

MLSnet.com Man of the Match: Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew)

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.

Real Salt Lake (3-3-2) vs. Columbus Crew (2-5-0)

May 21, 2005 -- Columbus Crew Stadium

Scoring Summary:

CLB -- Frankie Hejduk 1 (unassisted) 14

CLB -- Frankie Hejduk 2 (Simon Elliott 2, Kyle Martino 1) 37

Real Salt Lake -- D.J. Countess, Rusty Pierce, Brian Dunseth, Eddie Pope, Nelson Akwari, Chris Brown (Seth Trembly 89), Brian Kamler, Clint Mathis, Andy Williams, Leslie Fitzpatrick (Dante Washington 63), Jason Kreis.

Substitutes Not Used: Matt Behncke, Jay Nolly, Leighton O'Brien.

TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Jason Kreis 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Jason Kreis 3); FOULS: 8 (Rusty Pierce 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Jason Kreis 2); CORNER KICKS: 6 (Andy Williams 3); SAVES: 4 (D.J. Countess 4)

Columbus Crew -- Jon Busch, Frankie Hejduk, Robin Fraser, Stephen Herdsman (Domenic Mediate 46), Chad Marshall, Mario Rodriguez, Simon Elliott, Chris Wingert, Kyle Martino (Ryan Kelly 79), Edson Buddle (Knox Cameron 74), Cornell Glen.

Substitutes Not Used: Bill Gaudette, Manny Lagos, Mark Schulte, Marcus Storey, Danny Szetela, David Testo.

TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Frankie Hejduk 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Frankie Hejduk 3); FOULS: 16 (Frankie Hejduk 3, Chris Wingert 3); OFFSIDES: 3 (Mario Rodriguez 2); CORNER KICKS: 7 (Simon Elliott 6); SAVES: 4 (Jon Busch 4)

Misconduct Summary:

CLB -- Frankie Hejduk (caution; Professional Foul) 27

CLB -- Kyle Martino (caution; Dissent) 34

RSL -- Nelson Akwari (caution; Professional Foul) 61

CLB -- Cornell Glen (ejection; Violent Conduct) 77

RSL -- Andy Williams (caution; Professional Foul) 92+

Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee's Assistants: -George Gansner; Chip Reed
4th Official: Jeffrey Mellen
Weather: Sunny-and-71-degrees

All statistics contained in this boxscore are unofficial.


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