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RSL pulls back to draw Earthquakes in tense clash


Photo by Russell Isabella / USA Today


Whether they’re equally competitive, or just plain don’t like each other, the encounters between Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes are tense, borderline angry affairs.

After the combined five yellow cards from their April meeting, there appeared to be some unfinished business during the 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto late on Friday. In the midst of the battle, Chris Wondolowski opened the scoring for the Earthquakes before an own goal from Victor Bernardez canceled out the strike in the second half.

RSL will feel hard done by, however, since Wondolowski’s opener was clearly the result of a blown offside call. The hosts slowly began to dominate proceedings, particularly in the second half, but the Earthquakes defense made almost every opportunity difficult to create and finish off.

Not a single shot from RSL landed on target, a surprise given the team’s 62 percent share of possession. The attack was hindered by a first-half injury to Javier Morales, who was a casualty of the fiery opening 45 minutes.

An intense start to the game immediately set the tone of the night. Kyle Beckerman’s yellow card within the opening minute was just the tip of the ice berg.

Tackles were flying in, and the battle between Jamison Olave and Innocent Emeghara was boiling hot. A pair of yellow cards were shown within the first 25 minutes, and the amount of time spent treating players for knocks amounted to four minutes of first-half stoppage time.

Beckerman was perhaps fortunate to remain on the pitch for the entire first half. While battling the Earthquakes’ Matias Perez Garcia for a ball near midfield, the World Cup 2014 star appeared to kick his opponent, nowhere near the ball. It was called a free kick in RSL’s favor, instead.

But things didn’t always go RSL’s way, specifically in the 18th minute. Shea Salinas tucked inside from the left and sent a low shot toward goal that trickled through a group of defenders. The ball rolled to Wondolowski, who sent a left-footed finish past Nick Rimando for the 1-0 lead.

Replays showed Wondolowski was a couple of yards offside when Salinas initially shot the ball, angering the RSL bench, fans, and only adding to the tense opening half.

RSL threatened more, though no one was really testing David Bingham in the Earthquakes goal. Beckerman had the first good chance in the 68th minute when a deflected ball landed nicely for him outside the box, but he pulled his shot just wide left.

It took the leg of an Earthquakes player to penetrate their own defense in the 71st minute. Devon Sandoval’s long pass down the right in the path of Saborio bounced dangerously in the box, and Victor Bernardez was the unfortunate party to loft the ball over Bingham and into the net.

A free kick from Beckerman swung in from the left nearly gave RSL the go-ahead goal immediately following the equalizer. After sailing past a group of lunging players, the ball bounced and spun inches wide of the far post.

Now without a win in four, RSL will look for a quick turnaround against LA Galaxy on Wednesday. The Earthquakes return to coach Dominic Kinnear’s old stomping ground with a trip to Houston on Tuesday.


  1. RSL went from a consistent top second tier team to a team who can’t make anything happen. You saw allot of this start last year when teams started to figure out the diamond and RSL lack of final 3rd play. To give RSL credit hey did loose 4 of their starters and one really good off the bench player.

    What i don’t get and i hope someone can answer is why go to a 4-3-3? There strength has always been in there midfield but they switch to a formation that put more on there forwards who last year besides plata just had an ok season. Why wouldn’t you switch to a formation that let you use more of your strength in midfield. I know lots of people don’t think it is a viable formation but i do believe RSL could pull off a 3-5-2 variation. They have some fast cb’s and fullbacks who try to always push up. Plus an ageing KB who could help sit in front of the cb’s for a great 4 player back that would allow the other 6 to have great offensive freedom.

  2. This was the sheatiest game of soccer I’ve watched since …… Well, since I watched an MLS game. Just plain awful.

    • Horrible. Two of the worst teams to watch. Garbage offside goal and a laughable OG …Old school MLS. Thank god for Dallas, Seattle, NE, and LA.

    • Based on the highlights I saw (2 terrible goals) and the stats (2 combined shots on target and very low pass completion rates) this looked like a contender for the worst game in MLS this season. Hope you are not giving up on the league because of this game.

  3. @Horsewhistle

    The law states if the ball is played. As in having full control of the ball. And since the ball was bouncing off players nobody had real control. Except for Wondo who was clearly offside nobody else had a controlled touch on the ball.

  4. Adam, although the call was controversial, the call aligns with the amendment to FIFA law 11. The Wondo goal was legit the minute Beckerman engaged and became active in the play.
    2013 Amendment:
    A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.
    As a journalist, you may want to research the call on the goal before falling victim to hyperbole. Ras Trent just couldn’t leave well enough alone.

    • So the ball bounces off olave, skims off beckermans foot and lands at the feet of wondo, who is all along in an offside position, and this is being viewed as a deliberate act by beckerman?

      • The rule amendment is about playing the ball. The ball deflected off of Olave, Beckerman makes a play. The head official is right there and has the determination if Beckerman was playing the ball or incidental deflection. Which in this case, is the deflection and Beckerman makes a play at the ball. Its not about contact, possession, control or 911 truthers.

        Point is SBI writer calls it a blown call, but doesn’t actually understand the complexity of the new ruling on Law 11 doesn’t make it black and white or why the goal stood.

      • IF that was the explanation from Stoica, it MAY ring true. However, Stoica said it was because Olave “opened his hips”. In this case, two wrongs does, in fact, make it right.

        Regardless, Stoica was simply overwhelmed in this match–as have many other CRs this season. MLS fans had better get used to this type of poor officiating because expansion is only going to make it more commonplace by further diluting the PRO pool of qualified officials.

  5. No, I don’t feel hard done. Getting a goal back on an own goal equalized karma. But holy crap RSL is boring to watch right now. While the announcers do their best to talk up Olmes Garcia, doesn’t he need to actually score sometimes to be good? Hopefully, Saucedo picks up a lot more of his time.

    • Agree on karma. I’m surprised game didn’t get totally out of hand due to refs. It was bad, but I expected an even greater decline after that first half. Anyhoo, good result.


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