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MLS: San Jose's defense kept RSL out of rhythm
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Sandy •Â Real Salt Lake expected to see plenty of long crosses in search of headers Saturday night.

The team just expected them to come from the San Jose Earthquakes.

But after giving up a pair of quick goals, RSL was the team firing desperate balls into the box.

"It kind of felt like we became them a little bit in the second half," midfielder Ned Grabavoy said.

RSL finished the night with 34 crosses from open play to just 16 from San Jose.

"We're not a crossing team," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "So it causes us problems late in games if we're going to be down a goal and the opponent puts a lot of players in the box. … There's time and space on the ball and you want to put in a cross, but we have to be who we are and find passes and find combination plays to get around them."

RSL finished the night with 17 shots, but managed to put only three of them on frame.

"You'd like to think we can get something better on the other end," Grabavoy said.

On the season's opening night, Alvaro Saborio played hero.

The Costa Rican striker scored twice against San Jose to start Real Salt Lake's year off with a win. His services would have been welcomed Saturday night.

Saborio, however, was once again absent from the RSL roster as he continues to deal with the effects of a calf strain that has kept him out of action the last two weeks.

"We've seen before when we have an opponent that sits that far back, we need somebody in the box to finish the goals and to make the run and beat their [defender] to the ball," RSL coach Jason Kreis said. "So I do think we miss Sabo in matches like this. There's no doubt about it."

Between injuries and international call-ups, RSL's leading goal scorer has now played in just 13 of the team's 30 regular season games.

"I feel very bad," Saborio said earlier this week. "I'm disappointed because I want to play and help the team every game. … This year is hard for me with so many injuries; I don't know what is happening."

afalk@sltrib.com

Twitter: @aaronfalk

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