Quakes control second half, but can't solve Rimando, fall in home opener.SANTA CLARA, Calif. - In the season opener for both the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake, it was a struggle between not only their respective opponent, but the slick turf at a half capacity Buck Shaw Stadium (although a near sellout of 10,525 paid attendance), soaked in constant downpour on Saturday night. Each team created their fair share of chances, but it was the RSL captain Kyle Beckerman who was the lone scorer of the game, netting a second-half tally for a 1-0 win.
San Jose held onto the possession early on in the match, with both teams feeling out the field conditions. In the 13th minute, they got the best chance of the early going. Ryan Johnson got position in the box on his marking back, Nat Borchers, and tracked down a 50-50 ball but was tripped up by Borchers as he took his attempt at goal, leaving it an easy save for RSL keeper Nick Rimando.
Chris Wondolowski came into the match coming off a strong 2010 season. Looking to keep the momentum of his MLS-leading 18 goals from a season ago, Wondolowski failed to show the finishing touch, mistiming his header from inside the six-yard box off a Chris Leitch cross in the 21st minute.
RSL got its first chance of the match in the 24th minute when team captain Beckerman unloaded a shot for the upper-left 90 from 35 yards out but just missed high.
From the Beckerman chance, RSL seemed to finally wake up and get involved with the match. In the 28th minute, Ned Grabavoy collected a loose ball at the top of the Quakes box and made a cutback move to free himself for a shot that got deflected out for a corner. RSL got two subsequent corners, but could do nothing with either.
After a San Jose hand ball in their defensive third, RSL had a golden chance on a set piece to nab the game's first goal. Javier Morales' chip into the box, however, sailed on high and went right to Quakes keeper Jon Busch.
Wondolowski had a better header strike in the 39th minute (off a Bobby Convey cross), this time from about 15 yards out. Although struck well, he was well defended and his chance went wide.
In the waning seconds of the first half, Convey slipped a pass to Wondolowski in the center of the field, 30 yards from goal. Wondolowski deked out his defender and had a go at goal, but slipped in the process, and soared his shot over goal.
Coming out of the locker room, RSL controlled the early stages of the second half. They had two quality chances within the first five minutes but couldn't capitalize. First, in the 47th minute, Ramiro Corrales misplayed a ball, leading to an RSL cross that Will Johnson was unable to volley. Three minutes later, after a San Jose foul, RSL took a free kick from 30 yards out but missed wide of the target.
San Jose rebounded from the Salt Lake pressure and put some of their own. In the 56th minute, Convey got free 25 yards out and took a strike at goal. Rimando was up to the task, stopping it from going in the far-right upper 90.
Busch made arguably the save of the in the 63rd minute. In a one-on-one encounter between Grabavoy and the Quakes keeper, Busch, anticipated correctly, stopping a point-blank shot from the RSL midfielder, parrying the shot out for a corner.
On the play, Busch laid on the turf with an apparent injury, and on the ensuing corner, he appeared a step slow as Beckerman retrieved a pass from Morales at the top of the box and slotted a shot past Busch into the lower 90 for a 1-0 lead in the 63rd minute.
San Jose had consecutive chances in the 73rd minute trying to equalize the match but Rimando was cat-like in his reflexes, stopping sizzling strikes from Wondolowski (just inside the box) and Khari Stephenson (from 20 yards out) to keep the Quakes off the board.
Earthquake substitutions Simon Dawkins and Ellis McLoughlin had chances to even the match, but Rimando stopped both their chances. Rimando nearly gave up a goal after stopping a Sam Cronin shot in the 81st minute. After batting down Cronin's bullet shot, the slick ball nearly trickled through his legs, but he fell on it just before it crossed the goal line.
Brandon McDonald tested Rimando in the 84th minute, crossing a ball into the six-yard box. Rimando mishandled it but regained his balance and picked up the loose ball before any damage ensued.
With RSL playing a prevent-style defense, leaving nine and 10 men behind the ball at all times, San Jose pressed in the offensive third the final quarter of the match. In the 90th minute, Wondolowski sailed a cross in that Rimando again mishandled, bouncing out for a corner. San Jose took two consecutive corners, but were denied both times.
In stoppage time, the Quakes had one chance on a set piece from 35 yards out. RSL defended it tightly and cleared it out. At the end of their rush up the field, the final whistle blew.
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