Real Salt Lake shook the San Jose Earthquakes in front of a sold-out home crowd Saturday night, winning 4-0.
After a quiet first half, Real scored four goals to run away with the win.
Real Salt Lake was well rested going into Saturday’s game. Real’s previous scheduled match, on July 16 in Vancouver, was postponed because of unsafe field conditions caused by excessive rain.
It looked like the rest might have turned to rust as RSL came out a little slow in the first half.
“It was hard for us to get tempo in the game,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. “We needed to raise the rhythm. We really need a bright start. … It’s been a long time since we had a bright start to a game.”
The first half was full of slower, possession-dominated soccer. RSL played unselfish ball that led to some good chances, one of which came off a screen play by forward Alvaro Saborio and resulted in midfielder Kyle Beckerman sending the shot just over the crossbar in the 28th minute.
“The last 10 minutes of the first half were good,” Kreis said. “We were gaining momentum and creating chances. It was just a matter of time before we got one in.”
RSL carried that momentum into the second half, where all the action took place. In the 56th minute, RSL was awarded a free kick after San Jose defender Brad Ring received a yellow card for a reckless tackle. Beckerman bent the free kick into the box, and it was headed in by defender Nat Borchers, only to be called back for an offsides violation.
Just four minutes later, Saborio made a run in the box and was taken down from behind as he split the San Jose defenders. Replays showed that Saborio was barely touched and could be called for a flop. San Jose defender Bobby Burling was given a red card and ejected from the game after the call. RSL was given a penalty kick that Saborio sank into the lower left corner in the 63rd minute.
When asked about the controversial call, Saborio’s only comment was, “It was a PK.”
San Jose was coming off of a 2-2 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday. The Earthquakes looked tired towards the end of the game after only playing with 10 players on the field from the 63rd minute on.
“We knew we could wear them out,” Beckerman said. “They didn’t come into the game to win. They weren’t putting much into the attack. After the PK, the floodgates opened.”
In the 75th minute, Saborio logged his fifth goal of the season. RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy ripped a shot on goal that was blocked by the keeper, only to be followed by Saborio and knocked in off the right post.
“I’m happy to get goals,” Saborio said. “I have to continue like that. I feel good and healthy. I think that the rest of the season should continue like that.”
Just three minutes later, RSL attacked again. Defender Tony Beltran chased the ball down to keep it in play, and sent a cross into the box. Saborio hit a shot that bounced off teammate Collen Warner. Beckerman was there to take advantage of the confusion and put the ball in the back of the net. After the team captain’s goal, he ran to the post, gave it a hug and kissed it.
“It was my first goal on that [North] end,” Beckerman said. “I thought I was cursed on that end, but I finally broke it.”
In the 83rd minute, RSL defender Jamison Olave headed in his 10th career goal off a cross sent in by teammate Arturo Alvarez.
RSL kept the 4-0 lead the rest of the game and came away with the win.
“We have had some difficult times this season,” Kreis said. “We’ve been improving every game for the past six or seven league games. We are just looking for 90 minutes of really good soccer.”
It wasn’t just a big game for the local professional soccer team but also a big week.
Earlier in the week, Beckerman and Olave were named to the MLS All-Star team. This is Beckerman’s sixth straight All-Star appearance and Olave’s second. The two standouts will play with other MLS stars such as David Beckham, Theirry Henry and Landon Donovan. The game is July 27 in New York against English Premier League champion Manchester United.
“It should be a lot of fun; I’ve never played against these guys before,” Beckerman said.
On Wednesday, Manchester United beat the second ranked Seattle Sounders 7-0, including a hat trick from Wayne Rooney.
“It seems like the teams in the League have been struggling against the bigger opponents,” Beckerman said. “I’ve been scouting them, and you’ve got to watch out for that Rooney guy.”
Real Salt Lake also announced Friday the signing of 20-year-old rookie forward Chris Agorsor from the Philadelphia Union. Agorsor played his college games at the University of Virginia and has been training with RSL since early June after being waived by Philadelphia.
RSL’s next home game is Saturday at 7 p.m. against the Columbus Crew.