Columbus, Ohio • Facing a quick turnaround with a shorthanded roster, Jeff Cassar opted to change Real Salt Lake’s formation for the first time all season.
In RSL’s lone meeting with the Crew this season, Cassar went away from the popular diamond midfield in favor of a 4-2-3-1 formation. Former Crew midfielder Cole Grossman started alongside John Stertzer as the two defensive midfielders with Olmes Garcia starting as the lone forward. Forward Joao Plata made the trip to Columbus but was not in the game-day 18.
Last season, RSL was 3-0-0 in regular-season games when it diverted from the diamond midfield before suffering a 1-0 road loss to Los Angeles in the playoffs.
The changes were not confined to alignment. Carlos Salcedo made his first start of the season, while Stertzer made the first start of his career.
In all, eight of Real Salt Lake’s starters entered the night with five starts or fewer this season and Stertzer is the 20th player to start this year.
Class of ‘11 reunion
Wednesday night’s game marked a reunion of the Crew’s 2011 draft class, which is now scattered across both rosters. That year, the Crew drafted Rich Balchan with the 12th pick, Justin Meram (15), Grossman (28) and Bernardo Anor (48).
Meram started on the left side of the Crew midfield with Anor tucked beneath him at left back against now-RSL players Balchan at right back and Grossman in the midfield. Balchan signed with RSL after the 2012 season and Grossman was picked up in the 2012 MLS waiver draft. The four players never started a game together with the Crew.
In addition, starting RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy — the only player to start all 14 games this season — made 26 appearances for the Crew in 2007. On the bench, defender Chris Wingert and assistant coach Andy Williams also played for the Crew.
Midfielder Jarad vanSchaik was RSL’s only pick in the 2011 draft. Selected 52nd overall, vanSchaik never made a first-team appearance for RSL and now plays for the Charleston Battery.
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