SANDY — There wasn't really anything impressive about Real Salt Lake's attacking prowess in the first leg of its Champions League quarterfinal series with Columbus last week.
Despite so many returning starters from last year's squad, RSL recorded just four shots against the Crew — and none on goal.
Realistically though, the team wasn't interested in style points, just a draw. The result was a conservative approach that netted RSL the point it was looking for.
"In Columbus, our main concern was getting the zero, so everything was behind that," said Robbie Russell. "We're away, playing against a team that we don't really know how they're going to play, so let's concentrate on getting the zero, which is why I think we really didn't get forward as much as we normally do."
Kyle Beckerman believes the lack of quality scoring chances had a lot to do with the bumpy field, and the inevitable rust of the early season match.
RSL is a possession-oriented teams that tries to play its style in all conditions. With the conditions the way they were, the players didn't link up as well as they're capable, which led to some Columbus counter attack.
"They're OK. I don't know how good they are though. I think it was more of us not being at our best," said Beckerman. "We can play better, and we're going to have to play better if we're going to advance."
The second leg of the quarterfinal series is Tuesday at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8 p.m.
All eyes will be on the weather for the winter match, and currently the high is forecasted to be 48 degrees, but likely dipping into the 30s for kickoff. With no snow in the forecast over the next two days, the playing surface should be in pretty good shape, unlike the icy field last Tuesday.
Looking back on the match, coach Jason Kreis thought his guys knocked the ball around fairly well considering the conditions.
"In re-watching it, we strung together some fairly nice sequences in our possession. It's just that we didn't get to the final third as often as we typically do, or we didn't get behind the defense and finish those plays with quality shots on goal," said Kreis.
RSL should get a boost returning to Rio Tinto Stadium, where it's unbeaten over all competitions in 33 straight matches.
Russell's presence on the field should give the attack a boost as well. He was a sub last week, but with Tony Beltran suspended this Tuesday because of last week's red card Russell is expected to slide right into the starting outside back position.
"I do kind of value my ability in attacking, that final pass, hitting good crosses. Hopefully the way our team works it gives me enough time to get up the wing," said Russell.
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Tuesday, 8 p.m.
Rio Tinto Stadium
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