Sandy • Real Salt Lake dropped its first game of the season, and it took just seven minutes to do it.
With a 1-0 lead in the 83rd minute, RSL looked primed to win its third game in a row to start the 2021 Major League Soccer season. But like Thanos from “The Avengers” franchise, Chris Wondolowski proved inevitable.
Wondolowski scored twice in a four-minute span and led the Earthquakes to a 2-1 win over RSL, which fought formidably up until the home stretch of the game. RSL striker Rubio Rubin said the feeling in the locker room postgame was “gutted” and “disappointed.”
“I think it’s just a little bit of lack of concentration at the end,” Rubin said.
Wondolowski’s first goal came off a rebound due to a David Ochoa save. The second came off a cross he headed home with authority.
It was the first home loss for Salt Lake, which welcomed a sold-out crowd of 10,448 to Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night.
Rubin opened the scoring with a spectacular goal off a bicycle kick. The goal cumuimatd a sequence that started with a throw-in and scored off a headed pass from Damir Kreilach.
You might have to go back to 2013 to find the last time a Real Salt Lake player put away a bicycle kick for a goal. Javier Morales did it that year against the Portland Timbers.
“It was almost a special night,” coach Freddy Juarez said. “With Rubio’s goal, I wish we would’ve gotten a little bit more out of that game. But we’ll learn.”
Real Salt Lake entered Saturday’s game winning its first two games of the season. The last time it did that was in 2012.
With the win, the Earthquakes moved atop the league standings with nine points. Of course, that could change after this weekend’s slate of games.
Juarez said a lesson that can be taken from Friday’s loss is his players finding opponents in the box and marking them better.
“Space is not going to score. It’s the player,” Juarez said. “So you have to find a player, be head on a swivel. You have to organize.”