[MLS] Two goals plus an assist from Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales overpowered Columbus, 4-1, in the second game of their Concacaf
Champions' League quarterfinal series Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL advances to the semifinals, 4-1, on aggregate, becoming the first MLS team to reach that stage since Concacaf unveiled the
league format three years ago.
Andres Mendoza scored four minutes into the second half to cut RSL's lead in half. Ensuing attacks pushed RSL back into its own half for a brief period but soon RSL regained its edge and won going away by netting two late goals.
Alvaro Saborio, who scored six goals in the group phase, ran onto a short through ball from Morales to fire a low shot past Crew keeper Ray Burse in the 23rd minute, and 13 minutes later Morales tucked away a pass from Andy Williams to double the lead that reflected RSL's superiority. Crew rookies Richard Balchan and Nicholas Grossman were unable to secure the middle, and the Columbus forward pair of Mendoza and Jeff Cunningham failed to test an RSL back line deprived of two starters because of red cards they received in the first match.
Eddie Gaven, Robbie Rogers and Emmanuel Ekpo drove the Columbus attack forward at the start of the second half. Gaven set up the goal with a chip that took a slight deflection and drifted into the path of Mendoza, who lashed a superb left-footed volley inside the far post.
RSL rode out some shaky sequences after conceding the goal but restored its tempo to again spray effective balls up to Saborio and front-line parter Fabian Espindola. Burse denied a Saborio header midway through the second half with a flying save, and from the ensuing corner kick defender Chris Schuler -- playing in place of the suspended Nat Borchers -- crashed a header off the crossbar.
The Crew defense, missing injured captain Chad Marshall, couldn't contain the skillful interplay of the RSL attackers, and cracked again in the 77th minute. Subsitute Paulo Araujo controlled a ball on the flank before slipping it inside for Morales to steer low past Burse, who may have been distracted by Espindola standing near him in an offside position.
Williams, who got the start after playing the final nine minutes in the first game, punctuated RSL's relentless approach by curling a 25-yard free kick into the top corner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
In the semifinals, RSL will play the winner of the CD Olimpia-Deportivo Saprissa series, which concludes Thursday in San Pedro Sula with Saprissa holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg.
Concacaf Champions League Quarterfinal, 2nd leg
Real Salt Lake 4, Columbus 1 (agg.: 3-1). Goals: Saborio 23, Morales 36, 77, Williams 95+; Mendoza 49.
Real Salt Lake -- Rimando; Russell, Schuler, Olave, Wingert, Williams, Beckerman, Johnson, Morales (Grabavoy, 87), Saborio (Paulo Araujo, 72), Espindola (Alexandre, 85).
Columbus -- Burse; Miranda, Iro, Balchin, Gardner (James, 60), Gaven, Grossman, Ekpo (Duka, 75), Rogers, Mendoza, Cunningham (Meram, 65).
Referee: M. Geiger.