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SOCCER

Columbus wants 'three points' against RSL

Columbus Crew coach Robert Warzycha took his club's loss at the Chicago Fire last week in stride.

"Sooner or later," Warzycha said, "you're going to lose."

Columbus had its six-match unbeaten streak snapped with a 2-1 loss to Chicago, which played the final 61 minutes down a man. Chicago scored twice inside the opening 30 minutes, and were able to hold off Columbus for the win.

"I think Chicago is a good team. Apart for those first few minutes, I thought we had a good game," Warzycha said.

"We just have to bounce back next week," Crew midfielder Chris Birchall added.

Columbus (5-5-4) returns to Crew Stadium on Saturday to battle Real Salt Lake, which visits after two straight home losses.

The Crew are 3-2-1 at home, and will not dwell on the Fire match. Although the Crew could have escaped with at least a point, even that would not matter this week against RSL.

"We just have go out and be confident. We're playing well at home," Birchall said. "We just have to play the ball the way we've been playing and cut out the silly mistakes, especially in the first ten minutes.

"If you do that against Salt Lake, you'll get punished as well. We'll be going into it trying to win three points at home."

Columbus, which is sixth in the Eastern Conference, has played fewer matches than all five teams ahead of it in the standings. With 19 points, the Crew are just 11 points off the top, with three games in hand on D.C. United and two on Red Bull New York, who are both on 30 points.

Real (10-5-2) will pose a challenge this weekend, as Jason Kreis and his club visit after home losses to the Los Angeles Galaxy and San Jose Earthquakes.

Kreis was "mad" after last week's defeat to San Jose, because he felt his club was much better, but got punished for a couple mistakes.

"I don't know a time that I felt as mad as I do right now. I'll be honest with you, soccer can be a very cruel game. I think (last week) was every indication of that," Kreis said.

"We had a ton of chances where we don't finish in their box and they created a couple of chances and finished."

RSL midfielder Kyle Beckerman echoed his coach.

"We gave up two soft goals and we didn't finish clear cut chances. Those two combined, you're not going to win many games," he said. "It doesn't matter if you're home or away. We created the chances that you need to win a game."

RSL has posted a strong road record this year, going 4-2-2 away from Rio Tinto Stadium. After last week's loss, Real could be primed for a big performance in Columbus.

"It's a week we'd rather forget for sure," RSL defender Nat Borchers said. "I think we played some very good soccer and created a lot of chances in these two games but we didn't get the results, so we have to look forward and look for results in the future."