San Jose Earthquakes 0, Real Salt Lake 1 | MLS Match Recap
SAN JOSE, Calif. – Javier Morales’ goal just before halftime was enough to lift Real Salt Lake to a 1-0 win in front of a sellout crowd at Avaya Stadium and a national television audience watching on ESPN2.
After San Jose’s Innocent was given a yellow card for a foul on Luke Mulholland, Javier Morales took the ensuing free kick from the top of the arc. His first attempt slammed into the defensive wall, but the rebound gave him a second chance and Morales made no mistake, drilling a shot off the underside of the crossbar in the 44th minute for his second goal of the season.
Both teams began the day by making adjustments to their usual starting 11s. Real Salt Lake had five players returning from national team duty, including starters Nick Rimando (US), Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), but were without the services of injured Designated Players Sebastian Saucedo and Joao Plata up front.
San Jose welcomed first-round SuperDraft pick Fatai Alashe back from US U-23 national team duty. But a rash of injuries to their back line forced them to start winger Cordell Cato at right back for the first time this year.
San Jose’s defense was further depleted just past the half-hour mark when Shaun Francis knocked heads with RSL’s Jordan Allen, forcing Dominic Kinnear to bring J.J. Koval off the bench to replace his injured left back.
The first half was almost a stalemate, with neither goalkeeper making a save in the opening 45 minutes. Morales’ goal just before intermission seemed to energize San Jose, as the Earthquakes soon created several chances for an equalizer. In first-half stoppage time, Sanna Nyassi found Adam Jahn open inside the six-yard box, but Jahn’s backwards heel flick flew wide of the far post.
Jahn missed another two chances just after the break. First, he skied a volley over the crossbar from 15 yards out. Minutes later, Jahn found himself in a one-on-one against Rimando, but rolled an easy shot straight at the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper.
Just before the hour mark, San Jose had an appeal for a penalty denied when the ball hit Real Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler in the arm deep in the RSL penalty box. But referee Armando Villareal waved play on. From there, Real Salt Lake settled down and closed out the rest of the game.
The Quakes’ center-back duo combined to deny Salt Lake a game-clinching goal in the 69th minute. Real Salt Lake’s Olmes Garcia stormed down the left wing and lifted a cross to the far post. Clarence Goodson’s lunging clearance was headed towards his own goal, but Victor Bernardez cleared it off the line acrobatically just before Devon Sandoval crashed into him.
Bernardez stayed down for a while and received treatment before returning to action. He was later subbed out in favor of Leandro Barrera.
In second-half stoppage time, San Jose had one last chance to equalize, but Alashe’s spinning shot flew high.
With the win, Real Salt Lake’s strong start to the season continues as they remain unbeaten with a 2-0-2 record. With their second straight loss, San Jose fall to 2-3-0.
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday. San Jose will host the red-hot Vancouver Whitecaps at Avaya Stadium, while Real Salt Lake continue their road trip with a visit to Sporting Kansas City.