If they could turn back time

By By Jon Gilbert

By Jon Gilbert

Maybe Major League Soccer could just put the 2007 season on hold for a couple of weeks so certain teams could start over.

According to Real Salt Lake head coach Jason Kreis, that is exactly what his team needs.

RSL dropped yet another match on the road, this time a 2-0 decision, to the Columbus Crew on Saturday night. The loss extended the team’s road winless streak to 12 games, dating back to last season.

“I feel that this team probably needs a preseason, to be honest,” Kreis said. “With some new players who are playing in a different system, I would love to have some time to work with those two forwards.”

Those two forwards are Alecko Eskandarian and Robbie Findley. Both players arrived midseason in an effort to jumpstart a stalled offense, but results have been few and far between. The forwards have three goals and one assist between them in 830 minutes of play.

Columbus, on the other hand, has had no such struggles as of late.

The Crew galloped to victory late on a penalty kick by Guillermo Barros Schelotto and a strike by Eddie Gaven.

Schelotto scored at the expense of a questionable call committed by RSL defender Richie Kotschau.

Kotschau seemed to foul Andy Herron on a hard slide tackle as the Crew forward cut inside the penalty box. On second look, it appeared Kotschau might have played the ball first, which would have made it a clean play. Nevertheless, the call stood and Schelotto stepped up and hammered home his second goal of the season in the 76th minute.

“In my eyes, I still don’t see it as a penalty,” Kotschau said. “I did get the ball. If (the referee is) saying I didn’t get the ball, I didn’t get (Herron) either.”

Kreis echoed similar disagreement.

“I’ll have to go over it again, but a very questionable PK call,” he said. “And I really felt the whole game was turned on that moment.”

Gaven struck only four minutes later, finishing an assist by Alejandro Moreno. Moreno made a strong run up the left side, beating RSL’s Danny Torres before crossing the ball to Gaven in front of the net.

The two Columbus goals continued an RSL trend. Real has allowed a deciding goal in the last 15 minutes of three of its last four losses. A late meltdown even threatened a victory over D.C. United on June 23, when it cut RSL’s lead to one in the 87th minute.

Unlike the D.C. match, RSL hardly showed up from the beginning.

The Crew controlled the match handily from the start and RSL barely saw its opponent’s side of the field in the first half, resulting in 10 shots from Columbus compared with Salt Lake’s two.

With RSL limping, Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer was forced to make only one save all match long. The win established a three-game shutout streak for the keeper and a six-game undefeated streak for his team.

Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando made his presence felt, but it was not enough. He made six saves between the bars, diving to fend off multiple shots, but eventually Columbus’s persistent attack was too much.

“It’s not the goalkeeper’s job to win the game,” Rimando said. “It’s a team job.”

Frustration consumed RSL’s performance. The club committed 23 fouls compared with the Crew’s eight, and the developing chemistry between Eskandarian and Findley will have to wait at least one more game. Eskandarian corralled his second yellow card of the match in stoppage time while tackling Schelotto. The red card and subsequent ejection reserved a spot for Eskandarian on the bench when Real plays Kansas City on July 14 while he serves a one-game suspension. The same goes for Mehdi Ballouchy, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season and will also sit out one game.

The loss further sours a season riddled with growing frustration.

“Again, we lost three points and we’re getting deeper and deeper in the hole,” Rimando said. “It’s going to get harder and harder to get out of it.”

[email protected]

Tyler Cobb

Toronto FC’s Ronnie O’Brien throws RSL defender Ritchie Kotschau to the ground Wednesday when the teams faced off at Rice-Eccles Stadium. RSL dropped another game on the road this weekend against Columbus Crew, 2-0.