RSL earn disappointing scoreless draw with Quakes

Posted on 20 June 2008 by Patrick McShane

Cunliffe heads it away from Borchers©ASN/Julia Fizer

Real Salt Lake (4-5-4, 16 pts.) remain unbeaten at home after drawing 0-0 against the San Jose Earthquakes (3-7-2, 11 pts.) in a hotly contested Wednesday night match in Salt Lake City. RSL let a perfect opportunity slip through their fingers to gain three more points in the competitive Western Conference as they were unable to take advantage of a man advantage for the second half due to the ejection of Earthquakes defender, Jason Hernandez.

One would think that both teams have become familiar foes this season, having met two previous times in both MLS and U.S. Open Cup play. RSL has outscored the Quakes 7-1 over those two matches, leading many to think that this would be another dominant performance by the home squad. Instead, both teams did little to impress as RSL couldn’t convert any of their 24 shots and the Quakes appeared content to bunker down and clear when under pressure.

The lineups for both teams appeared slightly different to previous encounters, with Matias Cordoba making his first home start for RSL as usual starting midfielder Andy Williams is on international duty for Jamaica. The Quakes also made a noticeable change, employing the services of standout midfielder Ronnie O’Brien on the hard plastic surface of Rice-Eccles Stadium for the first time this season. While Cordoba played admirably and was effective in supporting the attack, it was the play and aggression of O’Brien the held RSL to the scoreless draw. “He is a veteran, a leader, and an offense threat, so anytime we can get him on the field it is great for us… In the last two weeks he has led us out there on the field” noted Quakes defender Kelly Gray.

Beltran and Cunliffe get physical, physical©ASN/Julia Fizer

Despite O’Brien’s exceptional contribution, one would have to think that he and the entire Quakes squad feel fortunate to have escaped with the draw. Not only did RSL triple the Quakes total shots on goal and corner kicks earned, but they also had what appeared to be the game-winning goal called back in the 72nd minute due to a controversial offside call against captain Kyle Beckerman. Javier Morales drove a corner kick into the box which striker Robbie Findley calmly headed down towards both goal and Beckerman. Unsure as to whether the shot was going towards goal, Beckerman slammed the ball into the upper right corner. The 10,333 fans in attendance erupted as RSL players ran off to celebrate while Quakes players argued with the linesman for not raising his flag. After nearly two minutes of chaos and discussion on the pitch, the goal was called back after a meeting between the referee and his assistant.

Cunliffe and Olave do battle©ASN/Julia Fizer

The reversed call appeared to inspire RSL as they continued to drive forward, almost stealing another goal minutes later. While running up the right wing, Findley drove a low pass to Morales just at the top of the box which he blasted immediately at goal, only to see the ball hit the left post and bounce to safety. Even little-used substitute and typical holding-midfielder Kenny Cutler tried to get in the action in the dying minutes, as he lashed an amazing shot from 30 yards out only to be barely tipped away by Quakes keeper Joe Cannon. In the end, however, it made little difference as the Quakes continued to withstand every attack and escaped with a much needed point.

Unfortunately for RSL, they will have little time to lick their wounds from this bitter result as they host league-leading New England Revolution on Saturday. New England also played Wednesday night, coming from behind in the 79th minute to draw 1-1 with Red Bull New York at home. RSL has to hope that the Revs physical midweek match plus travel time will put them in the perfect position to earn a needed home win against a quality opponent before heading to Kansas City next week. Kick off is at 7:30 pm MT and can be seen live on MLS DirectKick.

AT A GLANCE
Scoring Summary:
None

San Jose Earthquakes — Joe Cannon, James Riley, Kelly Gray, Jason Hernandez, Eric Denton, Ronnie O’Brien, Ramiro Corrales, Ned Grabavoy, Ivan Guerrero (Ryan Cochrane 51), Ryan Johnson, John Cunliffe (Adam Smarte 61).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Matias Cordoba (Kenny Cutler 67), Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Kenny Deuchar (Tino Nunez 57).

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Jason Hernandez (caution; Reckless Foul) 25
SJ — Jason Hernandez (ejection; Second Caution) 44
SJ — Ned Grabavoy (caution; Reckless Foul) 78
SJ — Kelly Gray (caution; Reckless Foul) 81
RSL — Nick Rimando (caution; Reckless Foul) 83

NOTES
• RSL will most likely be without the services of midfielder Nathan Sturgis as well as strikers Fabian Espindola and Yura Movsisyan for the match on Saturday as all three are continuing to nurse injuries.
• As reported by the Official Real Salt Lake Blog “Behind the Shield” (http://rsltothecore.com) on June 11, RSL has begun to look at new players to add to the squad for the stretch run when the international transfer window opens on July 15. First to train with the squad was 29-year-old German midfielder Sebastian Schindzielorz and it is rumored that RSL will continue to be bringing in a number of players over the next couple of weeks.

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