San Jose Earthquakes
The team isn’t playing, but Wednesday night is going to be huge for Real Salt Lake.
Two games with massive implications for the Claret-and-Cobalt will take place tomorrow night, with Seattle hosting Vancouver at CenturyLink Field (8:00 p.m. MT; MLS Live) and San Jose hosting Colorado at Buck Shaw Stadium (8:30 p.m. MT; MLS Live).
RSL could clinch a postseason berth pending the result of the San Jose-Colorado match, with a Rapids win or tie in the Bay Area securing the Claret-and-Cobalt’s sixth-straight MLS Cup Playoff appearance. Of course, a result for the Rapids would pull Colorado closer to RSL in the Western Conference standings. With the Rapids just four points back of the Claret-and-Cobalt at the moment, that might not be the best thing.
As several pointed out on Twitter, this whole situation has led to a bit of internal conflict for some of us here in the office.
@RealSaltLake But a San Jose win would put your chief rival one step closer to losing out on a playoff berth. The enemy of your enemy...
— Robert Jonas (@robertjonas) October 8, 2013
@robertjonas Well now we're conflicted.
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) October 8, 2013
Moving past the Quakes-Rapids contest – and our minor existential crisis – the Seattle-Vancouver matchup is oozing with Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield implications. There’s no dilemma here: RSL fans will be rooting for the ‘Caps to pull the upset in this Cascadia clash.
Seattle is currently one point behind RSL for the West lead and two points behind the New York Red Bulls in the chase for the Supporters’ Shield. The Sounders have two games in hand on both the Claret-and-Cobalt and New York, meaning that Seattle will need to drop a result or two down the stretch for RSL to have a shot at the West crown and the Supporters’ Shield. No better time for that than tomorrow, when the Sounders will be without U.S. internationals Brad Evans and Eddie Johnson against a Vancouver side fighting tooth-and-nail for its playoff life.
Real Salt Lake lost its second match in a row on Saturday, falling 2-1 to the San Jose Earthquakes at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few facts and figures from Saturday’s match:
Rio Tinto Stadium was sold-out on Saturday night, with 20,504 fans packing the RioT to capacity for the sixth time this season. The sellout – the second consecutive full house in Sandy – was the fourth largest crowd in Rio Tinto Stadium history.
Despite dropping two consecutive matches, the Claret-and-Cobalt is still in the Supporters’ Shield race – albeit on the fringes – just three points behind the first-place New York Red Bulls and two points back of Western Conference leaders Seattle Sounders FC.
All three goals in Saturday’s contest were scored within a 3 minutes and 5 second span in the first half. Steven Lenhart opened the scoring, nodding San Jose ahead at the 17:03 mark. Javier Morales equalized for RSL, finding the back of the net at the 18:44 mark. Lenhart scored the winner scarcely a minute later, again heading home to put the Quakes up 2-1 at the 20:08 mark.
Morales continued his dominance over San Jose on Saturday, with his 19th minute tally marking his seventh career goal against the Quakes. RSL’s Argentine maestro now has seven goals and six assists in 13 career regular season games against the Bay Area side.
While the team wasn’t able to pick up a result, RSL did completely control the run of play on Saturday, registering 69.5 percent possession and out shooting San Jose 17-8.
This Saturday (7:00 p.m. – CW30, ESPN700), Real Salt Lake looks to retake the lead in the Supporters’ Shield race as they host a desperate San Jose side. But that’s not all that is noteworthy ahead of this weekend’s clash. Rio Tinto Stadium is close to notching its sixth sellout of the season— only Maverik Mayhem Corner seats and Standing Room Only tickets remain — while going head-to-head with Utah’s biggest rivalry game: BYU vs. Utah.
The near-sellout has proved to be especially noteworthy, garnering an article in the Salt Lake Tribune earlier this week.
RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis sees the near-sellout as a sign of soccer’s growing influence in Utah.
"We’ve done this in the past, a near-sellout or sellout,” he told media when asked about going up against the BYU vs. Utah game. “I think it’s a pretty clear indicator of where we are in our sport and where we are with the support in this community. I think all of us feel extremely proud and extremely pleased with that support.”
The BYU vs. Utah game might be the biggest sports rivalry in Utah, but RSL fans aren’t letting this weekend’s critical match go unnoticed.
The players are having a little fun with it too, sharing their favorite sports rivalries in the video above ahead of Saturday's likely sellout at Rio Tinto Stadium and college football clash in Provo.
Fundamentals. If there's one thing that can be said about RSL's 3-0 win over San Jose on Saturday, it's that the fundamentals were there, and all three goals scored that day can be attributed to proper attention to those.
Finishing: Three goals were scored from eight on-target shots — a conversion rate of about 38 percent. On the season, we've averaged 22 percent conversion; clearly, this is an improvement. There was a good deal of talk last week about finishing and the fact that it needed improvement, and this was a good starting point for marked improvement. This sort of rate will need to be sustained over time.
One player who deserves a good deal of credit for improvement in finishing is Robbie Findley, whose well-taken shot from the left flank saw him with his first non-poached goal of the season. That isn't to say that there's a problem with poached goals, but finishing from a variety of positions is important. Javier Morales, too, deserves credit for his well-taken finish, and there's so much to be said about Ned Grabavoy's goalscoring exploits this season that it's difficult to start.
Defending: San Jose may be underperforming thus far this season, but attributing RSL's success to that fact belies the defensive effort involved. It was an interception by Tony Beltran that fell to Javier Morales that set in motion the first goal. The second goal came about after a long pass was won by Nat Borchers, and Tony Beltran set the movement in motion with a pass won fantastically well by Robbie Findley. A good combination from the ever-aware pair of Javier Morales and Ned Grabavoy to pick up possession after a heavy touch, starting the run that led to Findley's goal.
All three moments saw RSL win the ball at the edge of the defensive half and move forward dangerously, putting San Jose on the back foot. It's yet another reminder that sometimes, creating chances is down to picking up the ball and moving forward in numbers.
Counterattacking play: It's hard to separate the counterattack from defense. It's perhaps the beautiful intermingling of defense and attack — the thing that ties the two together and makes the game really tick. All three goals were scored from the counter.
Three passes took place before the first goal, and five passes led to the second and third goals. The first and third both came about as a result of rebounds from the defense, and they can be in part attributed to the fact that they were very much on the back foot. This is what the counterattack brings, and RSL capitalized on it well.
Real Salt Lake turned in a dominant performance on Saturday night, scoring three first half goals to down the San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting numbers from Saturday’s home win:
Saturday’s win gave Real Salt Lake a 4-1-1 record in its last six matches, tied for the top mark in the league over that span with the Montreal Impact and Seattle Sounders FC. RSL’s 13 league points since the start of May stands alone as best in MLS.
RSL has outscored its opponents 14-6 over its last six league matches. The team’s +8 goal differential is tied for the best in the league over that span with the New England Revolution, which has outscored its opponents 11-3 over its last six MLS games, including a 5-0 win over the LA Galaxy on Sunday.
Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales – who had a goal and an assist on Saturday night – now has six goals and six helpers in 12 career regular season games against the Quakes. That’s the most goals Morales has against any one team and the second-most assists he has against any one side. The Argentine playmaker has the most goals and most assists in RSL-San Jose games as any player on either side of the rivalry.
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy’s 33rd minute goal on Saturday night gave him three regular season goals in his last three league games, matching his total output in the five MLS seasons from 2008-2012. Grabavoy – whose three goals so far this year equals his career high for goals in a season – scored two goals in RSL’s 4-1 win at Chivas USA on May 19.
Morales and Claret-and-Cobalt captain Kyle Beckerman both played 300 minutes last week – 90 each in RSL’s MLS games against Chicago and San Jose and 120 in the club’s Open Cup win over Atlanta.
Real Salt Lake has a solid history against San Jose, posting a 6-6-5 record against the 'Quakes in regular season play and a 7-6-6 mark against the Bay Area side across all competitions.
We've put together four of the Claret-and-Cobalt's "Signature Moments" against San Jose. Enjoy below.
March 3, 2013 - Alvaro Saborio nets a brace in RSL's 2-0 season opening win at San Jose.
July 23, 2011 - Sabo earns - and converts - a PK and San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch... Well, let's just say Jon Busch didn't like the call. RSL went onto win the game 4-0, taking advantage of a two-man advantage to pummel the 'Quakes.
July 3, 2009 - San Jose defender Chris Leitch knocks in an own goal in second half stoppage time to give RSL the 1-1 draw, extending the Claret-and-Cobalt's home unbeaten streak.
Javier Morales Goals - Footage of Javi's five career goals - including a couple of absolute gems - against the 'Quakes.
Real Salt Lake is set to continue its home stand on Saturday night, when it will host the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Here are a few interesting storylines ahead of Saturday’s game:
Javier Morales: The boss of San Jose
RSL midfielder Javier Morales has had a ton of success against San Jose, registering five goals and five assists in 11 career regular season games against the ‘Quakes.
Morales’ domination against San Jose isn’t in question. Whether or not he’ll get a chance to continue it on Saturday is. The 33-year-old Argentine playmaker went the full 90 last Saturday and played all 120 minutes in RSL’s 3-2 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup win over Atlanta on Tuesday and could be in line for a rest tomorrow.
Ned Grabavoy v. Frank Yallop
Saturday’s match will pit RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy against his former coach and current San Jose manager Frank Yallop. Grabavoy played for Yallop in 2008 in San Jose before getting waived by the ‘Quakes on the eve of the 2009 season. RSL picked up Grabavoy the same day that San Jose dropped him, with the midfielder helping the Claret-and-Cobalt to its MLS Cup that same season.
Khari Stephenson faces off against former team
Real Salt Lake midfielder Khari Stephenson – who scored an insane goal in extra time on Tuesday night to give RSL the win – will be facing off against his former team on Saturday night. The Jamaican midfielder played for San Jose for two-and-a-half years before joining RSL this offseason, scoring eight goals and notching eight assists in 69 regular season appearances for the ‘Quakes.
RSL looking to make it two in a row over San Jose
Prior to last season – when RSL lost all three of its games against San Jose – the Claret-and-Cobalt hadn’t lost to San Jose in six-straight meetings and nine out of its last 10 games against San Jose.
RSL is looking to run its unbeaten streak over San Jose to two on Saturday; the Claret-and-Cobalt got a brace from forward Alvaro Saborio to beat San Jose 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium in the season opener on March 3.
San Jose Earthquakes are back in town for the first time since they knocked Real Salt Lake out of the Western Conference lead in June 2012, but this time, the visitors are struggling to find even the faintest of footing.
Shots fired: Real Salt Lake are leading the league in shots taken and shots on goal, and while that's nice, it's interesting that San Jose is not far behind in either metric. They've taken 10 fewer shots, so one has to wonder why they haven't been scoring. Indeed, it would be worrying if Jason Kreis wasn't paying attention to that fact — though one should be sure he is. There's a palpable feeling that San Jose are dangerous — one needs only look at shot charts to see why. This necessitates the defense protects Nick Rimando as capably as possible.
Speaking of defense, deciding between Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Carlos Salcedo for the partnership with Nat Borchers can't be easy. After 120 minutes on Tuesday and 90 minutes on Saturday, Carlos Salcedo might miss out. That's simply a lot of time out there, and he's worked hard the entire time. But he has acquitted himself well in the early days of the season, and Jason Kreis has shown a penchant for retaining players in form. With Chris Schuler likely to miss out, the decision comes down to today and how well the two recovered from a grueling Open Cup match.
Recovery will be a big consideration for Kreis everywhere on the pitch. Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Carlos Salcedo all played full minutes in both recent matches, and some rotation might necessarily take place. Sebastian Velasquez, Luis Gil, and perhaps some faces less often seen could be in line for minutes. But once again, inconsistency in play is a natural extension of inconsistent lineups.
Lineup concerns are one thing, but considering RSL's relative success despite those inconsistencies, there's not much reason for grave concern. The rotation might even be a good thing for those players who haven't seen as much time — but who exactly that might be is up for debate.
Less-used players might end up with time. Enzo Martinez and David Viana haven't played any matches yet in 2013 (and Enzo not at all), Khari Stephenson has only started a third of the matches he's played in, and Kwame Watson-Siriboe has played in only a handful of matches. Should some of the players with less experience play against San Jose, they'll have to be extra aware — especially considering that San Jose's not afraid to shoot.
San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch joined On Frame on Thursday night to look ahead to Saturday's RSL-Earthquakes matchup, talk U.S. Open Cup and discuss San Jose's year thus far.
The veteran 'keeper said something particularly interesting about the Earthquakes "Goonies" mentality, telling Brian Dunseth and Trey Fitz-Gerald that he thinks the "Goonies" mantra needs "to be put to rest."
Good times in Real Salt Lake's last game at San Jose: A Saborio brace, the birth of the Sabo-Plata love affair and - most importantly - a Claret-and-Cobalt win.
Check out the full highlights from RSL's March 3 season opening win at Buck Shaw Stadium above.