Fans were treated to fireworks during and after the match match.SANDY, Utah--On a night when fans were expecting fireworks after the game, they also got them during the match. An injury-time own-goal from Chris Leitch evened up the score between Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes after Arturo Alvarez had given the visitors the lead.
The first half saw precious little action in the final third of each end. The style by both teams seemed plodding and conservative, with both having difficulty making the final passes to put the ball into dangerous areas. San Jose appeared reluctant to push numbers forward, relying on the two forwards and outside midfielders to create opportunities. Real Salt Lake struggled to make the connections with players making runs, and forced some passes. Neither team looked tremendously in-sync, but neither team made critical mistakes either.
One of San Jose’s best opportunities in the half came through midfielder Arturo Alvarez, who used his pace and skill to get the ball into danger along the right side. He then showed some good touches to get past defender Tony Beltran, but his final touch was too heavy and went past the end line.
Real Salt Lake did have a good chance near the break when forward Fabian Espindola chased down a ball into space and caught up to it near the top of the box. He quickly got off the shot against the onrushing Joe Cannon, but Cannon did a good job of keeping his feet and the shot went directly into his knees.
San Jose suffered two injuries in the first half as captain Ramiro Corrales came out with a sprained knee and midfielder Bobby Convey pulled a hamstring. They were replaced by Mike Zaher and Shea Salinas respectively.
San Jose came out aggressively during the first few minutes of the second half. They pushed more numbers forward, getting additional midfielders and defenders forward. It nearly paid off with a goal in the 49th minute as forward Pablo Campos received a pass inside the box with his back to the goal. He turned quickly and got the shot off toward the near post, but Rimando was up to the task and easily stopped the shot.
Real Salt Lake quickly responded to the attempt with one of their own. Forward Yura Movsisyan beat his defender along the right side of the area, appearing to have a breakaway opportunity, but was ridden down toward the end line and his attempted cut-back pass was deflected away from danger.
San Jose came into this match as the underdog with only a single road point prior to this match. However, they were determined to change that and appeared set to do so when they cracked open the scoring in the 63rd minute. Alvarez wove through the defense, first beating Robbie Russell at the top of the penalty area and then deftly sidestepping the attempted tackle by defender Nat Borchers. Rimando chose to come off of his line, directly challenging Alvarez about fifteen yards out, but Alvarez easily put the ball around Rimando and into the net.
Giving up the goal seemed to take the air out of the home team for a couple of minutes. However, in the 66th minute, Morales had a free kick from about 25 yards out. The ball was well-hit, bending inward around the goal and toward the upper right corner of the goal. However, Cannon slid over just in time and shepherded the ball over the bar and out of play.
San Jose went into time delay mode immediately after the goal, with several players feigning injury to make the clock tick. They also had delays on a goal kick and a throw in. They earned several yellow cards but were content to sacrifice for the three points. This resulted in a shoving match between Espindola and Brandon McDonald in the 76th minute, which yielded a yellow card for McDonald.
A minute later, McDonald made a hard tackle on Espindola. The Argentine took exception to the play, and while sitting on the ground swept out the legs of McDonald, earning a straight red card. It was the second needless red card earned by Real Salt Lake in the last three matches.
Unfortunately for San Jose, Real Salt Lake played the rest of the match like the team with the man advantage. They managed numerous shot attempts and created dangerous opportunities. However, the previously porous San Jose defense appeared set to hold their ground in this one as they maintained the shutout at the end of regulation time.
However, Real Salt Lake managed the equalizer just one minute into stoppage. A long ball was played by Russell from midfield. It went over the foot of Morales and deflected off of a defender. Morales got a touch on the ball, and Movsisyan took the ball from him. Defender Chris Leitch toe-poked the ball away from Movsisyan, but it went backwards past the sprawled out Cannon and into the net.
It appeared that Real Salt Lake may get another one as the speedy forward Robbie Findley got past his defender and his touch popped the ball up and over Cannon, who had come out to meet the play. The ball looked set to bound forward and into the goal, but defender Jason Hernandez was able to turn around and get the ball away off of his right foot to maintain the draw.
The result left Real Salt Lake with a 5-6-5 record and 20 points, fifth in the West. They face Columbus in two weeks after an exhibition match next week. San Jose moves to 3-8-4 with 13 points, but remains in the cellar in the West. They are at home against Toronto next week.
Randy Davis covers Real Salt Lake for Goal.com
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