Forwards Yura Movsisyan and Tino Nunez seemed like the least likely candidates to start for Real Salt Lake in such a critical match Saturday night.
Movsisyan hadn't started a match since the opening day of the season, and rookie Nunez had never started an MLS match. Yet there they were, on the field for RSL during starting line-up introductions.
RSL coach Jason Kreis said sitting Kenny Deuchar and Robbie Findley, who had a combined 25 starts this year, was all about form.
"It was really just looking Kenny and Robbie in the eye and seeing they were getting a little bit frustrated," said Kreis. "I know from my history of being a goal-scorer that it can become very mentally fatiguing, and I thought those two they needed a break, and I also thought that Yura and Tino over the past couple of weeks have deserved the opportunity."
Just last Sunday, Movsisyan and Nunez combined on five goals in a 5-3 reserve victory over Houston, a performance that probably contributed to their starting nod against Columbus.
In fairness, neither Movsisyan nor Nunez was scintillating and didn't produce a goal, and Kreis' decision probably had more impact at the end of the game.
When Findley and Deuchar entered the match in the 64th and 69th minute as substitutes, they both looked sharp and combined on RSL's second goal.
"Whatever it was, the decision was made for us to come off the bench, and we just had to get our head ready for it and contribute when we get in the game," said Findley.
LONG TIME WAITING: The 2008 season has been very frustrating for Nate Sturgis, obviously.
Twenty-seven minutes into his second start of the season back in Week 4, Sturgis strained his hamstring, and he hasn't been seen since. On Saturday, he was on RSL's 18-man game-day roster, and in the 89th minute he made his long-awaited return to the field, replacing Andy Williams with RSL leading 2-0.
He's hoping it's enough to get him onto the U.S. Olympic team. Sturgis was a key member of the U.S. Under-23 National Team's run through qualifying and was a lock to make the team before his injury. If the Olympic coaching staff believes he can remain healthy, he's a good bet to make the team.
Reports are that the Olympic team will be announced on Thursday.
SECRET STRATEGY? RSL is now 2-0 when a suspended Kreis watches the game from the press box. RSL's previous win on such an occasion was May 10 when it held off FC Dallas 2-1.Kreis has one more game on his two-game suspension, which will be served next Saturday at Chicago.