Despite scoring very early, Real Salt Lake's normally stellar defense was unable to hold of the Crew attack late, and left with a 2-1 loss on the road.
While this was the first regular season meeting between the two clubs, they met twice before the season started in the CONCACAF Champions League tournament. After a draw in Columbus, Real Salt Lake won 4-1 at home to advance in the tournament.
In tonight's match, Real Salt Lake seemed to pick up right where they left off by scoring in the seventh minute on a corner kick.
The ball was played in well and found the foot of central defender Jamison Olave who took one poke at the ball and placed a high bouncing shot between the crossbar and the outstretched arm of the goalkeeper.
It was his first goal of the season.
Real Salt Lake held the lead going into halftime and until the 76th minute when Crew forward Andres Mendoza converted a penalty kick to tie the game.
Although it tied the score, the kick came with a bit of controversy.
Columbus fans and coaches expected Jeff Cunningham to take penalty kicks on the night, but just before the kick, Mendoza waved him off.
Had Cunningham converted the kick he would have moved into a first place tie with Jaime Moreno on the all-time goals scored list for Major League Soccer.
The penalty came on minimal contact at the top corner of the box as Justin Meram went down easily after being tripped by Jamison Olave.
With the score tied at one and Real Salt Lake in a good position to possibly steal a point on the road, Columbus midfielder Josh Gardner found himself open with the ball a few yards outside the box. He fired a strike that deflected off of the leg of a defender and changed direction into the back of the net to win the match for the crew in the 82nd minute.
Real Salt Lake nearly put in the equalizer in stoppage time on a corner kick that landed at the near post just in front of the goalkeeper. Real Salt Lake defender Tony Beltran got his foot on the ball and redirected it towards the goal.
Crew goalkeeper Will Hesmer's quick reaction pushed the ball wide of the post and preserved the win for the home team.
Real Salt Lake now has a quick turnaround before they play on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union.