Early San Jose surge stuns Real Salt Lake

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SANDY, Utah – The San Jose Earthquakes shook RSL’s homecoming aspirations with a 2-1 road victory on Sept. 21.

All goals came within a three minute span. The first came 18 minutes in as Quakes’ midfielder Cordell Cato took advantage of given space on the right. He send a pin-point cross to forward Steven Lenhart, who created room near the penalty spot and headed a bullet past an outstretched Nick Rimando.

RSL responded quick with one of its own. Just over a minute later, Real captain Kyle Beckerman connected on a corner to a wide open Javier Morales in the box. He tapped it home in front of a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium, and things were knotted at one.

A little déjà vu in the 21 minute put San Jose back in front. In similar fashion, a sleeping Real team stood idly as Quakes’ midfielder Shea Salinas sent a cross from the left into the box, where Lenhart headed in his second of the night.

“They were taking early set pieces, and I held my hand up for both of those goals,” Real defender Nat Borchers said. “I was marking Lenhart. He just got inside of me both times. A guy like that in the box is going to bury his chances. We just couldn’t get out.”

An aggressive attack by RSL in the 82 minute would be the closest attempt at an equalizer. Morales threaded a pass through two San Jose defenders to Robbie Findley, whose tough-angle shot flew wide into the net. Two corners in stoppage time threatened but generated no scoring chances in the end.

“We just weren’t quite good enough in the attacking third of the field,” Real head coach Jason Kreis said. “There were a lot of players in the box, a lot of players to deal with and move around, and we needed some special plays, but we just didn’t quite get them tonight.”

RSL’s all-time leading scorer Alvaro Saborio sat out the Sept. 21 match against San Jose with a left calf strain injury, which he suffered in recent international play for his home country Costa Rica.

Real lost for only its third time at home all season Saturday night. It sits two points behind Seattle Sounders FC for the top spot in the western conference. The quest for the Supporters’ Shield remains realistic but demands improvement.

“Right now it’s going to be hard,” Morales said. “Seattle has more points than us in fewer games than us. Now we have to focus and improve our soccer and our team. If we want to be in the MLS Cup, we have a lot of work.”

The Claret-and-Cobalt travel north to take on Vancouver Whitecaps FC next Saturday, Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. MDT at BC Place. Follow the game live on CW30 or ESPN 700 AM.

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