Real Salt Lake 2, San Jose Earthquakes 0 | MLS Match Recap
SANDY, Utah – Ned Grabavoy and Sebastian Velasquez scored five minutes apart in the first half and Real Salt Lake secured a playoff berth with a 2-0 victory Saturday against the slumping San Jose Earthquakes at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Grabavoy scored from 28 yards out in the 24th minute and Velasquez knocked in a corner kick from Luke Mulholland in the 29th minute for Real Salt Lake, who remained third in the Western Conference with 52 points.
The Claret-and-Cobalt, last year’s MLS Cup runner-up, qualified for the postseason for the seventh consecutive season. They won the Cup in 2009.
The result extended San Jose’s winless streak to 13 games, dating back to Aug. 2 – the league’s longest current drought.
One week after RSL’s stunning, 1-0 loss to Western cellar-dweller Chivas USA, the Claret-and-Cobalt appeared determined not to endure the same fate Saturday night.
The two early goals diffused the pressure, thrilled the sellout crowd and allowed RSL to play freely and aggressive the rest of the way. They pressured San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch right from the start, buzzing the net with shots beginning in the third minute.
The question coming into the game was where would the scoring would come from? Because of injuries and international duty RSL’s lineup accounted for just 14 of the team’s 50 goals this season.
But the makeshift lineup had more than enough firepower for an Earthquakes team limping to the finish and also missing a number of their first-choice players away on international duty. Velasquez’s goal was his first of the season, and he played 77 minutes in his first start atop the diamond formation in place of Javier Morales.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella didn’t appear to be affected by the ankle he injured in training earlier in the week and made just one first-half save to earn his second victory in nine starts in place of US international Nick Rimando.
The victory was the first in three meetings with San Jose this season. The teams tied in both matches at Buck Shaw Stadium.
A win at home is nothing new for the Claret-and-Cobalt – they are 10-1-5 at Rio Tinto this season. The road has been a different story, though, and that’s where they will play Friday against Portland. San Jose return to action Saturday when they play host to the Vancouver Whitecaps.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Sebastian Velasquez||The diminutive midfielder covered a ton of ground and was RSL's most dangerous attacker|
|2||Nat Borchers||Led a shut-down effort on RSL's backline|
|3||Sebastian Jaime||The Argentine played his best game, showing flashes of big-time skill|