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RSL remain undefeated at home by rocking the Quakes

Posted on 02 June 2008 by Patrick McShane

Real Salt Lake continued their stellar play at home this season, defeating the San Jose Earthquakes 3-1 thanks to a second-half scoring barrage led by Robbie Findley and Javier Morales. RSL has yet to lose a match on their home turf this season and continue to appear formidable on the plastic pitch at Rice-Eccles stadium.

Despite the high-scoring result, the match resembled “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” more than a juggernaut display by a dominant home team. In fact, the match was defined by two key plays, both of which took place in the first three minutes of each half. RSL started off strong when midfielder Kyle Beckerman earned a free kick, which was subsequently hit off of a defender’s arm in the box resulting in a penalty. Stepping up for RSL’s first penalty kick of the season, Morales casually took a right-footed shot right into the diving arms of Quakes keeper Joe Cannon, missing out on a golden opportunity to take an early lead and set their opponents on their heels.

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The penalty miss appeared to deflate RSL’s spirits as they struggled for the rest of the half to mount any significant attack outside of a header by RSL forward Kenny Deuchar that bounced off of the post. Deuchar was particularly furious as he felt Quakes defender Ryan Cochrane held him in the box, leading to his miss-hit header. However, what appeared to be a tightly contested match changed drastically when RSL striker Findley came on for injured striker Fabian Espindola late in the first half.

Findley’s energy and drive had an immediate impact less than three minutes into the second the half when he collected a long pass from Morales in the far left corner. Cutting into the middle of the pitch past an unprepared Quakes defense, Findley launched a low, powerful shot past a surprised Cannon to open scoring. This appeared to trigger RSL back to life, as they continued to pressure on attack. It seemed as if all the weight from the early penalty miss was now off their shoulders as their midfield worked cheeky passes and combination plays on the left wing. This newfound aggression paid off in the 60th minute when Morales and Findley combined again for a second goal.

Finding himself with yards of open space in the middle of the pitch, Morales drove the ball forward to an onrushing Findley dragging three Quakes defenders with him. Noticing Morales was making an off the ball run, Findley placed a perfect one-touch pass into the box which Morales slotted to the right past Cannon. Often maligned for his heavy first touch, Findley demonstrated throughout the second half a deft feel for possession and vision, particularly when picking out Morales and putting RSL in the driving seat.

The match was all but over when Andy Williams earned RSL’s second penalty kick of the match by taking a perfectly placed pass from Morales and turned on goal, only to be dragged down from behind. Avoiding a repeat scenario, midfielder Dema Kovalenko took the kick instead of Morales, powering a goal past Cannon after reading his initial movement.

With the game seemingly out of reach, Quakes head coach Frank Yallop subbed in young Englishman John Cunliffe. In less than twenty minutes of play, Cunliffe continued to terrorize the RSL back four, converting on one goal attempt and nearly stealing another. Collecting a beautiful back-heel pass from Nick Garcia, Cunliffe dribbled between two RSL defenders and slammed a vicious shot past keeper Nic Rimando in the 84th minute. While the goal appeared to pay immense dividends for their morale, it seemed to be too little too late for the Quakes as the match ended with no significant action over the final six minutes plus stoppage time.

RSL look to continue their quality home form next week when they take on the Kansas City Wizards at Rice-Eccles stadium. In fact, five of RSL’s next seven opponents will be hosted at home. It seems that despite their struggles on the road, RSL knows they have some sweet home cooking at the moment. As Deuchar noted: “We’ve got a lot of good wins right here as well. We’ve got to concentrate on keeping this place a very had place to come to. Teams don’t like coming here, and if they know we are good at home they’re going to like it even less.”

AT A GLANCE
Attendance: 15,977
Weather: Clear -and- 80 degrees
Location: Rice-Eccles Stadium – Salt Lake City, Utah

Scoring Summary:
RSL — Robbie Findley 2 (Javier Morales 6) 48
RSL — Javier Morales 2 (Robbie Findley 2) 60
RSL — Dema Kovalenko 1 (penalty kick) 73
SJ — John Cunliffe 1 (Ramiro Corrales 1) 84

Misconduct Summary:
SJ — Jason Hernandez (caution; Reckless Foul) 62
SJ — Nick Garcia (caution; Tackle from Behind) 72
RSL — Kenny Deuchar (caution; Reckless Foul) 81

San Jose Earthquakes — Joe Cannon, Jason Hernandez, Ryan Cochrane, Nick Garcia, Eric Denton, Shea Salinas (James Riley 59), Ramiro Corrales, Joe Vide (Kelly Gray 71), Ned Grabavoy, Ryan Johnson, Jovan Kirovski (John Cunliffe 74).

Real Salt Lake — Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Jamison Olave, Chris Wingert, Andy Williams, Dema Kovalenko, Javier Morales (Matias Cordoba 79), Kyle Beckerman, Kenny Deuchar (Tino Nunez 85), Fabian Espindola (Robbie Findley 45).

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