SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake kicked off the second half of the MLS season with a bang.
There were fireworks during and after the game as RSL shut out the Columbus Crew in a hard-fought, physical match, 1-0.
Sam Johnson scored his team-leading 8th goal of the season in the 38th minute, tracking down a booming clearance from Aaron Herrera. The speedy Johnson raced past two defenders and beat Columbus goalkeeper Joe Bendik for the only goal of the game.
Nick Rimando extended his all-time MLS record with his 148th career shutout, his second in row, without having to make a save.
After the game, head coach Mike Petke was pleased to get the victory, but knows his team can play better.
“I’m ecstatic about the result and the second straight shutout, six points in two games,” said head coach Mike Petke. “But I want more from my team. I want more from my team because they’re capable of it. I think we could have played better, but the point is, we got the three points. This is not me putting my players down. This is a compliment to my players because I know they’re capable of more.”
“A little lethargic in the first half but we were able to keep zeroes on the board and sneak one in,” Rimando said. “A team effort there. We have to sharpen up a bit. I think we’d all agree that it wasn’t our prettiest game. But saying that, to get a victory and not play pretty, it means something.”
The Crew’s best chance came in the first half, when Alex Crognale’s header off a corner kick hit the crossbar.
Albert Rusnak had a couple of great scoring opportunities in the second half, but one of his shots was knocked over the crossbar by Bendik, while the other hit the post.
RSL had 14 shots, putting three on target, while Columbus had 7 shots total without a single shot on frame.
With the victory, RSL moves back above the playoff line in the Western Conference with a record of 8-8-2.
Real Salt Lake plays its third game in a week Saturday night at San Jose.
“We have some tired legs, but we also have some guys that are waiting in the wings to come on and impact the team,” Petke said. “So, Saturday could be a situation that we’re going to have to rely on the entire roster.”