Real Salt Lake got more chances. It even netted a couple of goals. But in the end, RSL’s first knockout game of the MLS is Back Tournament went the other way.
The San Jose Earthquakes advanced to the quarterfinals of the tournament with a wild 5-2 win over RSL on Monday. The Earthquakes play the winner of Tuesday’s game between Columbus Crew and Minnesota United.
The loss ends a tournament for RSL that saw it put together two strong performances, particularly on the defensive end, before bowing out with back-to-back losses and conceding seven goals.
“It’s a little difficult for us because the first matches, we didn’t allow a lot of goals — we didn’t allow any goals, really,” forward Douglas Martinez said through a translator. “And the last two matches, we did allow goals. We had many mistakes defensively. It’s not easy to see how you get five goals scored against you. It cost us not only the match, but also the tournament.”
Goals have been difficult to come by for Salt Lake so far in the 2020 season. Through six games, the team has scored five goals — an average of 0.83 goals per game.
But the message from the club all season, particularly during the tournament, has been there’s no concern over scoring struggles as long as it was creating chances. RSL has also put emphasis on the defensive side of the ball since last season, and hoped to carry that over to Orlando.
But the Earthquakes were just better on Monday. They drew two penalty kicks, both of which Magnus Eriksson put past RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath. They also made key saves in the second half, and striker Chris Wondolowski put the game away for good in the 86th.
“Of course it’s not nice to see that we conceded five goals,” midfielder Damir Kreilach said. “But as well, a couple of things didn’t go in our way. It is what it is and we have to be positive and stay looking forward.”
RSL coach Freddy Juarez said his team was playing its best soccer of the game when San Jose scored its third goal. The sequence that gave San Jose that 3-1 lead was one Salt Lake might regret when they watch the game film.
MacMath rolled the ball straight in the path of an Earthquakes player in their attacking third of the field. A few crisp passes later and Valeri Qazaishvili scored on Andrés Ríos’s assist in the 51st minute.
With RSL down 3-1, Kreilach had two very good looks at goals. But Earthquakes goalkeeper Daniel Vega’s quick reflexes stifled both of them.
Kreilach finally broke through off a well-placed through ball by defender Marcelo Silva. That cut San Jose’s lead to 3-2 with about 15 minutes remaining in regulation.
Silva picked up a straight red card after a dangerous tackle in the 84th minute. Chris Wondolowski scored three minutes later as the ball found him in the box, bounced off his shin and trickled past the goal line.
Kyle Beckerman got called for a handball late in stoppage time and Eriksson put away his second penalty kick goal of the game for the final score. Beckerman also got a red card seconds before the game ended for kicking the ball at a San Jose player.
RSL made the tournament’s round of 16 by earning four points in the first three games, which also count toward the regular season standings.