Man of the Match:
Alan Gordon (pictured) with the late-game heroics again? Are you kidding me? And he did it twice this time? Are you kidding me? ‘Tis true, the San Jose Earthquakes’ substitute extraordinaire keeps getting it done in the waning minutes for Frank Yallop’s team. This go-round Gordon took advantage of some sloppy work in RSL’s defense to put his team ahead with a 74th minute header. And when the home side equalized, Gordon flicked on a throw-in toward Chris Wondolowski, who turned that chances into the game-winning goal.
Packaged for take-away:
- A lot of the game is just about opportunism. Real Salt Lake created 2-3 times the number of chances San Jose did; the visitors left with the points because they were more ruthless in and around goal.
- Real Salt Lake has lost two in a row at home, a real rarity for the Jason Kreis’ team.
- Jason Hernandez was Jason of the Spot several times for San Jose. The Earthquakes’ center back could easily have been Man of the Match, as well.
- Chris Wingert usually an outside back, played centrally along the RSL back line for the injured Jamison Olave. Tony Beltran, usually stationed on the right, played along the left for Kreis. The back line adjustments certainly showed as Steven Lenhart and Wondolowski found gaps in the RSL back line that usually aren’t there, or that are harder to locate, at least.
- Going just a little more defensively, San Jose manager Frank Yallop assigned Ramiro Corrales to a left midfield role rather than a spot in the back.
- It’s really a testament to poor communication between match officials (including the fourth official) that more of Lenhart’s off-the-ball shenanigans aren’t seen and/or punished. That’s why those guys are there – or one of the reasons, anyway.
- Speaking of officials, referee Jair Marrufo completely blew it in the 35th minute, missing a penalty kick or at very least a foul right at the 18 as Corrales tripped Real Salt Lake playmaker Javier Morales from behind. He also allowed San Jose midfielder Khari Stephenson to kick and hack with relative impunity.
- Morales, making only his seventh start this year in an injury-pocked season, ran the RSL offense with the tactical and technical proficiency of a man who has been playing all year. Thanks largely to Morales, the home team controlled most of the possession and definitely created that greater number of high-quality chances. On the other hand, San Jose did enough to create a good chance here and there, which is what the road team needs to do.
- Earthquakes left back Justin Morrow made the defensive play of the night, launching himself to knock a ball out of goal after RSL’s Fabian Espindola had rounded San Jose ‘keeper Jon Busch. (Busch was back in the lineup after serving his one-game league-mandated disciplinary suspension.) Morrow, like Hernandez in the middle, was excellent Saturday.
- Will Johnson also got around Busch, but failed to get a shot away as Hernandez recovered in a goal-mouth mashup in time to thwart the shot. Later in the half, Hernandez was on the goal line to knock another shot away. So Busch was rounded twice and beaten one other time without actually conceding a goal, thanks to heads-up defending.
- RSL striker Alvaro Saborio was quite active inside the penalty area for the home team, making both San Jose center backs work hard. On the other end, Marvin Chavez made life hard on RSL makeshift left back Beltran.
- RSL manager Jason Kreis had hoped to get 50-60 minutes from Morales but got the full 90.