On Saturday Columbus Crew SC won their first home game since April 23rd with a thrilling 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake. Ola, the new Kamara in town, found his feet tonight with a hat trick and a fine all-around performance, putting to bed the “hat trick penalty” argument that sent Kei Kamara away to the New England Revolution.
The game started 90 minutes late due to a thunderstorm in the area and it was Salt Lake City that started the stronger, opening the scoring on 14 minutes. Luke Mulholland brought the ball into midfield and played it out left to Joao Plata, who returned the ball and from 25 yards out and with no one closing him down let rip a powerful shot that nestled in the top right corner of the goal, giving Steve Clark no chance to respond.
Justin Meram was the one Crew SC player that the delay did not seem to affect and he assisted the equalizer after 17 minutes. Corey Ashe fed Meram down the left and he drove to the byline and flashed the ball across the face of the goal to find Kamara at the back post to apply the simple finish.
Three minutes later Columbus were ahead 2-1 thanks to a Justen Glad own goal. Meram again was the architect and intercepted the ball in the center and drove clear towards goal. Aaron Maund ran back to tackle and the ball bounced off Meram and onto Glad and past a helpless Nick Rimando in goal.
Crew SC then had two great changes to extend their lead at the end of the half, first when Ashe met a far post cross, but his shot hit the upright and over. Then Ethan Finlay should have extended the lead on 45 minutes when a Federico Higuain through ball found him running free, but his touch was too heavy allowing Rimando to come and clear the opportunity.
In first half stoppage time Columbus conceded a penalty when Rodrigo Saravia hesitated on the clearance and brought down Mulholland as he stole the ball. Plata stepped up, but his penalty was at a comfortable height for Clark to save to his right.
As the second half got underway Kamara had two great changes to double his goal tally for the night. First he was set free by Finlay but as he cut back the returning defender cleared. Then on 55 minutes Higuain was fed down the left and his cross found Kamara, whose close range shot was fantastically saved by Rimando and his follow-up could only hit the post.
Kamara was not to be denied and on 64 minutes scored his second of the night. Waylon Francis had just entered the field for Ashe and on his first run forward crossed to find Francis splitting the Salt Lake defense to head home from six yards.
The hat trick was then completed ten minutes later, making Kamara the first player to score three goals in a game for Columbus in 12 years. This time it was from a Higuain corner which Kamara rose the highest to meet with a powerful header that could not be kept out.
RSL did not lay down and gave Columbus a nervous end to the game thanks to two quick goals. First it was Jordon Allen splitting the two Crew SC center backs to head home. Then a Mulholland shot was deflected into the path of Plata to side foot past Clark from close range.