The Columbus Crew suffered one of their worst losses in several years on Saturday, dropping a listless 4-0 decision against Real Salt Lake. US international Kyle Beckerman scored two goals to lead the way, with Devon Sandoval and Luis Gil adding one apiece.
Coming into the game there was every indication that this could be a competitive contest. Columbus had won two straight games, both by 2-0 scorelines. Salt Lake was stumbling, with only one win in their last six games. They were coming off a much shorter rest period, having traveled to Portland on Wednesday for a 3-3 draw. Columbus had won the last three meetings between the club.
All those data points were lost, however, as the home team built impressive edges in nearly every statistical category - including the only one that ultimately matters. Salt Lake held a roughly two-to-one advantage in time of possession, passes completed, and out shot the Crew 17-4.
Columbus won the game's first corner kick in the fifth minute after Dominic Oduro raced onto a ball from his position on the right wing, finding Higuian to the right of goal with one of his better passes of the night. The resulting corner kick was harmlessly cleared at the back post, however, and for most of the rest of the first half the Crew struggled to clear the ball out of their half of the field.
After threatening for most of the first half, the Crew almost reached the break on level terms. Chad Marshall gave up a free kick just outside the area, however, and the ball ricocheted through the wall to the feet of Beckerman, who converted to Matt Lampson's left.
The Crew mounted the first attack of the second half as well, with Higuain feeding Oduro as the latter broke into the Salt Lake penalty area. His pass was slightly behind, however, forcing Oduro to turn his back to goal and ultimately lose possession.
Devon Sandoval doubled the Salt Lake advantage in the 52nd minute. Just a minute after Lampson made a strong save on a shot by Olmes Garcia, Garcia again found space to the left of goal. This time he crossed low across the box, where Sandoval was waiting unmarked at the far post for an easy tap-in.
With the Crew unable to mount any sustained pressure, and Real Salt Lake comfortably controlling the pace of the game, coach Robert Warzycha made a pair of substitutions. Forward Jairo Arrieta made way for Konrad Warzycha, while Danny O'Rourke was replaced by Tony Tchani. This change was intended to shore up an ineffective midfield, with Tchani playing in front of Warzycha and Trapp. Dominic Oduro remained on the right wing, with Federico Higuain playing alone as a forward in a 4-5-1 formation.
Unfortunately, the goals kept coming. Salt Lake scored their third goal in the 83rd minute, catching the Crew defense napping. Substitute Sebastian Velasquez held the ball at the top of the penalty area before passing to Ned Grabavoy, who strung a pass through the back line for Luis Gil, who touched past Josh Williams before shooting from close range.
Beckerman put the final nail in the coffin on the verge of stoppage time. Velasquez sent in a cross from the right flank, which Chad Marshall was only able to deflect with his trailing foot. The ball skittered to Beckerman, standing unmarked in the area as Tchani raced to recover. Beckerman calmly slotted his shot inside Lampson's right post.
Insult was added to injury in stoppage time as Federico Higuain was sent off after receiving a second yellow card. Assistant referee Kevin Duliba made the crucial determination, calling over Silviu Petrescu for a conversation before the referee called the Argentine over. Higuain will be suspended for next Saturday's home game against Seattle, with additional games or fines a possibility.
Timeline of events
5' Corner kick, Columbus (left side - no shot taken)
7' Corner kick, Salt Lake (left side - foul called)
8' Corner kick, Salt Lake (left side - cleared)
17' Corner kick, Salt Lake (left side - punched)
26' Corner kick, Salt Lake (right side - short)
34' Caution, Federico Higuain (reckless foul on Javier Morales)
35' Corner kick, Salt Lake (right side - short)
36' Corner kick, Salt Lake (right side - cleared out)
36' Corner kick, Salt Lake (right side - headed wide)
39' Caution, Devon Sandoval (dangerous tackle on Chad Marshall)
45' 0-1 Kyle Beckerman (unassisted)
52' 0-2 Devon Sandoval (Olmes Garcia, Javier Morales)
62' Robbie Findley replaces Olmes Garcia
62' Konrad Warzycha replaces Jairo Arrieta
63' Tony Tchani replaces Danny O'Rourke
74' Ryan Finley replaces Ben Speas
80' Caution, Dominic Oduro (tackle from behind on Luis Gil)
81' Sebastian Velasquez replaces Devon Sandoval
83' 0-3 Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy, Sebastian Velasquez)
87' Cole Grossman replaces Ned Grabavoy
89' 0-4 Kyle Beckerman (unassisted)
91+' Caution, Federico Higuain
91+' Ejection, Federico Higuain (second caution)
Matt Lampson, Chad Barson, Josh Williams, Chad Marshall, Agustin Viana, Wil Trapp, Danny O'Rourke (Tony Tchani 63'), Dominic Oduro, Ben Speas (Ryan Finley 74'), Federico Higuain, Jairo Arrieta (Konrad Warzycha 62')
Daniel Withrow, Tyson Wahl, Kevan George, Ethan Finlay
Real Salt Lake
Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris WIngert, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy (Cole Grossman 87'), Devon Sandoval (Sebastian Velasquez 81'), Olmes Garcia (Robbie Findley 62')
Jeff Attinella, Lovel Palmer, Abdoulie Mansally, Joao Plata