By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah– After an overtime U.S. Open Cup match that threatened to derail Real Salt Lake’s recent form, the Claret and Cobalt rode three first-half goals to a thunderous shutout win in Rio Tinto Stadium over the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.
RSL forward Robbie Findley and midfielder Javier Morales were the catalysts all night long with both notching a goal and an assist each. The two RSL players partnered up throughout the match to wreak havoc on a short-handed Earthquakes defense that had no answers.
Morales has been particularly lethal against San Jose in recent matches, notching 6 goals and 5 assists in the last 12 encounters between the two teams.
“I want to score every game and assist every game. I know that the record now against San Jose is pretty high,” Morales remarked.
RSL blitzed San Jose with three goals in a 22-minute span with three different players getting in on the action.
Morales notched the first goal in the 16th minute after a botched save from San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch fell right to the feet of Morales, who slotted the ball home.
Midfielder Ned Grabavoy nabbed the second in the 33rd minute after a beautiful sequence that saw forward Joao Plata dummy the ball to a wide-open Grabavoy, who blasted the ball into the top corner.
Findley scored the third and most spectacular goal in the 38th minute when he laced a curled shot from a tight angle at the edge of the 18-yard box past San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
“It felt good,” said Findley when describing his goal. “It’s always a good feeling to score a goal. “My defender had a poor clearance, it came straight to me. I had my mind set when it was on its way to me. Took a touch and hit it, and thankfully it went in.”
RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis had high praise for Findley’s performance, explaining that the RSL forward has had to work through a couple of injuries already this season.
“Tonight, I think, was Robbie’s best game of the season,” exclaimed head coach Jason Kreis. “Tonight I think he showed that he’s back at the top of his game.”
In the second half, the Earthquakes showed much better but were unable to get on the board thanks to some spectacular saves from Nick Rimando.
RSL wanted to get back to posting multiple shutouts and rediscovering their dominant defensive ways. Grabavoy thought the victory was a step in the right direction.
“The soccer wasn’t necessarily there in the second half and it was a little bit sloppy but in saying that I think we battled hard,” Grabavoy said. “Those things for me and for our team are just as important as the attractive soccer going forward and creating chances.”
Here are the match highlights: