Columbus, Ohio •Â Nat Borchers was thrilled and relieved that his Real Salt Lake teammates were able to escape with a 0-0 draw with the Columbus Crew, after he was ejected from the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on Tuesday night.
He was far less excited about the Crew's Emilio Renteria.
Borchers and Renteria were ejected with straight red cards following an altercation in the 72nd minute of the frigid game at Crew Stadium, and Borchers had strong words for his opponent afterward. He accused Renteria of elbowing him in the throat, and said the Venezuelan forward should be banned for five games.
"If I hadn't leaned back a little bit," Borchers said, "I probably would have been in the hospital."
It was hard to tell exactly what happened away from the ball television cameras did not capture the whole thing but Borchers said he stuck out his leg as Renteria tried to move past, following the alleged elbow.
"He basically tripped over it and made a meal of it," Borchers said, recalling Renteria rolling on the ground holding his face. "That's a poor way to play the game."
The red cards issued by referee Jair Marrufo, who has a history of showing red and calling penalty kicks against RSL followed the ejection of RSL's Tony Beltran in the 53rd minute for two yellow cards, leaving RSL to play with nine men against the 10-man Crew on a crusty and icy field.
"It was more of a battle than it was a soccer game," coach Jason Kreis said.
Renteria disputed the Borchers account of their encounter, saying he never hits defenders and that Borchers had been delivering blows all night. When he saw Borchers coming again, Renteria said he slapped Borchers' arm away, before Borchers stuck out his knee.
"The analogy for me is what I did was petty theft," Borchers maintained. "What he did was first-degree felony. He should be banned for five games. Me, I should have got a yellow card. Maybe just a foul. Consistency was a big factor in this game."
For example, RSL players wondered whether Marrufo realized he already had booked Beltran once, when he did so again for an arguable foul.
"Maybe if he knows that, and is cognizant of that, he doesn't give me that card," Beltran said. "Still, in that situation, I have to know better, act a little more mature" and not give the ref a chance to call a foul. "It's a terrible feeling, leaving the guys out there to play that out. But credit to them, credit to our team, we were able to rise to the occasion and battle it out."