Sandy • Real Salt Lake played its best 45 minutes of the season.
That’s all it needed.
In the midst of a month-long homestand, RSL (7-5-3) manhandled the visiting San Jose Earthquakes 3-0 on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium, scoring all three goals of the match in the first half.
San Jose peppered the RSL goal in the second half, but goalkeeper Nick Rimando was up to the challenge, stopping a number of close-range shots to preserve the clean sheet.
More importantly, forward Robbie Findley, who has been hampered by inconsistency and injuries in his brief return to Utah, had a breakout performance with a goal and an assist.
Real Salt Lake got on the score sheet first in the 16th minute when forward Robbie Findley created some space at the top of the box and rifled a shot that was deflected by San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
The ball rolled to the center of the box, where Javier Morales was there to calmly poke the ball into the back of the net. It was Morales’ sixth career goal against the Earthquakes, his most against any team in the MLS.
And that was just the start.
Findley once again created an opportunity in the 33th minute when he found Morales open on the right side of the field.
The veteran midfielder took a one-time touch and curved the ball into the box, where forward Joao Plata dummied the ball through his legs, allowing an unmarked Ned Grabavoy to run onto the ball and finish with a left-footed shot to the far post.
After having his hand in the first two goals, Findley finished one himself in the 38th minute when a poor clearance by San Jose rolled to his right foot, and the forward curled a ball past the outstretched arms of Busch.
The victory, RSL’s fourth in its last sixth matches, moves the team into second place in the Western Conference with 24 points, two ahead of the Portland Timbers.