RSL: Still unbeaten at home
Striker Robbie Findley seemed to channel all of the mounting Real Salt Lake frustration into one savage swing of his right leg.
The result was spectacular.
On the field because fellow striker Fabian Espindola sprained his knee, Findley beat goalkeeper Joe Cannon inside post with his thunderous blast from nearly 25 yards out on the left side early in the second half to propel RSL to a crucial 3-1 victory over the expansion San Jose Earthquakes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on Saturday.
"I was wide open and just feeling good, so I took the shot," Findley said.
His second goal of the season relieved the aggravation that RSL was starting to feel after missing several golden opportunities in the first half, and unleashed a torrent that allowed the team to avoid falling into last place in Major League Soccer.
Findley later served up a perfect pass that midfielder Javier Morales turned into an insurance goal in the 60th minute - midfielder Dema Kovalenko added a penalty kick in the 73rd - as RSL improved to 3-5-2 and started their important home-heavy stretch of games in promising fashion in front of 15,977 fans.
"I really felt like we raised our level in the second half," Morales said through a translator. "We got a lot better."
Indeed, until Findley launched his blast, RSL had whiffed on a variety of promising chances in the first half, including a penalty kick that Morales shot right at Cannon in the second minute and a free kick that hit the far post and rebounded in front of the goal before the Quakes cleared it.
"Quite frankly, I thought we were miserable in the first half," coach Jason Kreis said. "Very, very disappointed, because I thought we were going to see 90 minutes of quality soccer tonight. . . . So at halftime, we challenged them quite a bit, and I was very, very proud to see the way they came out and reacted to that challenge in the second half."
Without a doubt, the floodgates opened after Findley scored, and the margin could have been much worse, considering the chances RSL continued to create with its relentless pressure after halftime. At times, the Quakes appeared to be playing a man down. San Jose's John Cunliffe pulled one back in the 84th minute by maneuvering a back-heel pass around RSL's Jamison Olave and firing past goalkeeper Nick Rimando, but the Quakes could not come any closer as they fell to 2-6-1.
"We played a lot of quality soccer" in the second half, Kreis said, "which we haven't done for a few weeks. So it was good to see us stringing passes together, looking crisp. . . . More than anything else, I'm very, very pleased with the soccer that we saw in the second half."