Man of the Match: Yes, quite a bit of Chris Wondolowski’s damage came in the second half, after the game was more or less decided. Still, a hat trick is a hat trick (with an assist added in there, too.) He shook loose of RSL’s Chris Wingert to score the important, early goal, then struck twice more as Real Salt Lake’s defense capitulated late. Wonder Wondo has 17 goals now to extend his MLS leadership.
Packaged for take-away:
- That was Wondolowski’s third career hat trick.
- San Jose has a four-point lead over Real Salt Lake in the West, with a game in hand.
- Real Salt Lake played the last half hour a man down and gave up the second goal shortly after Kyle Beckerman was thrown out. But honestly, it probably didn’t matter. San Jose was just better in this one.
- The Earthquakes did a tremendous of applying pressure in midfield, while everyone along the back line did their part.
- You hear a lot about Earthquakes center back Victor Bernardez, and rightly so. But Earthquakes left center back Jason Hernandez contributed some important tackles and some worthy moments of composure to this one, too.
- By contrast, RSL center back Jamison Olave had some struggles Saturday at Buck Shaw. Then again, you could probably say that about all the men from Utah.
- Marvin Chavez worked the flanks like a champ, setting the table nicely for Shea Salinas and Chris Wondolowski (both missed those chances) and generally giving the visitors a bunch to deal with.
- Real Salt Lake didn’t have a Chavez, someone to bother the opposition defense and make defenders sit a little further back. That helps explain the 57-43 edge in possession percentage for San Jose before the break.
- With Nat Borchers and Tony Beltran still out, RSL had to roll out another patchwork defense.
- Kenny Mansally has helped tremendously as a fill-in at left back, or possibly as a long range project at that position for Jason Kreis’ team. But he doesn’t yet possess a defenders’ reactions, instincts and sense for what’s going on around him, and that occasionally gets Mansally in trouble. Like when he got caught marking Wondolowski late in the first half and allowed the league’s leading scorer a great opportunity by not more aggressively attacking Chavez’s cross.
- Of course, Mansally’s real forte from left back should be his ability to attack out of the back. But with San Jose’s Steven Beitashour pushing aggressively up that side, and without his team ever really generating much possession, Mansally was doing all he could just to defend, never mind the attacking part.
- In the second half, Sam Cronin’s bad tackle on Javier Morales devolved into a huge mess, with lots of pushing, shoving, gesturing, shouting, etc. Pretty much the whole nine angry yards. Referee Allen Chapman dismissed Beckerman and handed out a couple of other cards. The problem was, Cronin’s original foul was quite dangerous. No action was taken on that one. Not yet, anyway.