Sandy • Welcome to Real Salt Lake's nightmare. When the team finally awakens is anybody's guess.
It's a collective experience, one that usually involves running in place. The more you work, the less you move.
Only this time, it involved goal scoring. Or, more to the point, it was the lack of goal scoring, not that RSL didn't have its chances. Boy, did Real have chances.
Instead, on Saturday night, San Jose stole a pair of goals and handed RSL its first back-to-back MLS losses at Rio Tinto Stadium, 2-1, and vaulted to the top of the Western Conference.
Real (10-5-2) which lost at home to the L.A. Galaxy on Wednesday squandered about a half dozen chances to send San Jose packing. Time after time, in front an inviting net, Salt Lake doomed itself with the inability to finish.
A defensive error late in the second half gave the Earthquakes (10-3-3) a short-lived 1-0 lead. RSL midfielder Javier Morales tied the game with a beautifully bending ball, but San Jose responded quickly with the game winner.
The first half began with both teams unable to build too much out of midfield.
Testing the waters, in manner of speaking, as San Jose came out in a 4-3-3 formation, that eventually morphed into a more middle-clogging defense.
As each side tried to create something out an occasional long pass, it appeared that both teams had agreed to a nonaggression pact.
That lasted about 25 minutes as slowly RSL began to string passes together.
It was also a half in which Beckerman picked up a yellow card, his third, and is now unavailable for RSL's next game.
Morales and Espindola began to create more and more chances. San Jose was fortunate several times that a final touch was too strong or a looping pass into the 18-yard box was a tad too high.
Espindola had Real's first quality chance, finding himself behind the Earthquakes' defense with only the keeper to beat. The Salt Lake forward took one more touch than necessary and San Jose was able to close the gap.
The danger continued until about the 40th minute when San Jose began to counter. At least three good Earthquake chances went begging.
Rimando, locked into an intense conversation with Grabavoy as they left the Rio Tinto field at the half, made a sparkling reaction save of a Lenhart blast from the left side that was headed toward the upper right corner.