[CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE] Temperatures well below freezing and preseason rust hampered play as Columbus and Real Salt Lake produced three red cards and no goals in the first leg of their Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal series.
Tony Beltran and Nat Borchers of RSL and Emilio Renteria of the Crew were sent off and will miss the second leg to be played next week at Rio Tinto Stadium. Beltran was dismissed eight minutes into the second half for a second caution and an elbowing joust between Borchers and Renteria in the 72nd minute prompted referee Jair Marrufo to issue both of them straight red cards.
Snow was scraped off the field during the day and ice-encrusted sections of the stadium were closed for the match, which drew an announced crowd of 4,665 in 25-degree temperatures. The Crew utilized emergency signing Ray Burse in goal, though regular starter Will Hesmer sat on the bench. Both Hesmer and backup Andy Greunebaum are recovering from injuries.
Captain Chad Marshall and Shawn Francis were also sidelined. Coach Robert Warzycha gave a start to recently signed Josh Gardner, who played the first 75 minutes before giving way to forward Jeff Cunningham as the Crew pushed without success for a late goal. Columbus generated just one shot on goal, RSL finished with none.
RSL coach Jason Kreis used what could be his starting lineup when the regular season gets underway next month. He will need to make at least one important change to replace Borchers for the second leg.
Quarterfinal, first leg
Feb. 22 in Columbus
Columbus 0 Real Salt Lake 0.
Columbus -- Burse, Balchan, Iro, Miranda, Gardner (Cunningham 75), Ekpo, Grossman, Gaven (Griffit 63), Rogers, Mendoza (Meram 82), Renteria.
Real Salt Lake -- Rimando, Beltran, Olave, Borchers, Wingert, Grabavoy (Williams 81), Morales, Beckerman, Johnson, Espindola (Russell 59), Saborio.
Red cards: Beltran 53, Renteria 72; Borchers 72.
Referee: J. Marrufo