The San Jose Earthquakes Chris Wondolowski kicks the ball against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy UT on Sat Oct 30, 2021 (AP News photo)
by Marko Ukalovic
SANDY, Utah—Playing spoiler isn’t such a bad thing.
The San Jose Earthquakes took their new role well as they scored four unanswered goals and then hung on at the end in a stunning 4-3 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday afternoon at Rio Tinto Stadium.
San Jose won their final road game of the season and finished 5-6-7 away from Pay Pal Park. Real Salt Lake failed to to move up in the Western conference standings and currently hang on the seventh and final playoff spot with 45 points.
It was the first time San Jose had won two consecutive games in Rio Tinto Stadium since RSL joined MLS in 2005.
Real Salt Lake (14-13-6) controlled the first 30 minutes of the game as they were able to create counter attacks as San Jose only had three fullbacks to start the game, leaving them vulnerable in its defensive zone.
In the ninth minute, RSL drew first blood. A failed clearing attempt by San Jose led to the ball ending up on the foot of Albert Rusnák. The Slovakian striker made a nice give and go with Damir Kreilach and Rusnák finished off the play with a chip in past Quakes goalie JT Marcinkowski for his ninth goal of the season.
Real Salt Lake came very close to doubling their lead in the 26th minute. A point blank shot from five yards out by Rubio Rubín was stopped by Marcinkowski.
San Jose (10-13-10) turned the tides in the 37th minute. Cade Cowell, who was inserted back into the starting lineup by head coach Matias Almeyda, received a long ball along the right side. The 17-year old forward raced down the right side and centered a ball into the middle where Carlos Fierro diving attempt put the ball into the back of the net for his third goal of the season.
The Quakes earned their first lead of the game in the third minute of stoppage time. Off of a corner, Fierro serviced the ball over to the right side where an unmarked Chris Wondolowski, who also made his return to the starting 11, headed the ball past Real Salt Lake goalie David Ochoa for his fourth goal of the season to cap off an entertaining opening half.
Wondo increased his MLS all-time goal total to 170. With his 13th goal all-time against Real Salt Lake, Wondolowski tied Landon Donovan for the most has scored more against RSL since they joined MLS in 2005 (including playoffs).
San Jose increased its lead to 3-1 in the 69th minute after a spectacular individual effort for Cowell. Marcinkowksi started a counter attack as he kicked the ball out to Cowell near midfield. Cowell raced in, faked out Justen Glad with a move into the middle of the box, then got Ochoa to bite right as Cowell slid the ball into the lower left corner of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
It was Cowell’s first goal since back in May of this year.
The Quakes looked to have put the nail in the coffin in the 79th minute when captain Jackson Yueill pick pocketed the ball off of Rusnák just outside the box. Yueill slammed home a shot top-shelf for his third goal of the season. It proved to be the game winning goal.
Real Salt Lake scored twice in the final eight minutes of the game to make the game closer than it should have been.
Anderson Julio sent a cross into the middle that hopped over two players onto the foot of Maikel Chang for his second goal of the season in the 85th minute.
Rusnák scored his second goal of the match after his left unmarked inside the box and one-timed a centering feed from Aaron Herrera in the third minute of stoppage time for his 10th goal of the season,
Marcinkowski finished the match six saves on nine shots to earn his 10th win of the season. Ochoa made two saves on six shots in the losing effort.
GAME NOTES: San Jose finished with 0 corner kicks. Real Salt Lake had 0.
Real Salt Lake had its seven game home winning streak snapped. It had equaled NYCFC for the longest home winning streak of the season. It was also the longest home winning streak in Real Salt Lake’s MLS history.
Damir Kreilach scored his 15th goal of the season in Real Salt Lake’s win over Dallas on Wednesday. Only two players have scored more goals in a single season in RSL’s history: Álvaro Saborio (17) in 2012 and Jeff Cunning ham (16) in 2006.
UP NEXT: The Earthquakes close out the regular season against FC Dallas on Sunday 11/7 at 3:00pm at Pay Pal Park.