'Quakes shut out again, fall 3-0 at Real Salt Lake

'Quakes shut out again, fall 3-0 at Real Salt Lake
June 1, 2013, 9:45 pm
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With Saturday's loss the Earthquakes are now 3-6-5 on the season, and sit in eighth place in the Western Conference. (AP)

Robert Jonas

BOX SCORE

Game two of the Earthquakes four game road trip finished much like the first as San Jose capitulated early to Real Salt Lake in a 3-0 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. First half goals from Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy, and Robbie Findley put the Quakes in a hole that even a strong second half performance was unable to overcome.

“It was a not a good performance by us tonight,” said coach Frank Yallop. “We didn’t come out ready to play and they punished us. To give up three goals in the first half is not good enough.”

RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando earned his second shutout of the season against San Jose after his squad dropped all three games between the teams last year. The defeat suffered by the Earthquakes, coupled with their 1-0 loss at FC Dallas the week before, ended their club record 57 match streak without consecutive losses. San Jose last lost two MLS regular season games in a row back in mid August, 2011.

“There is nothing we can do but get back to work and put this behind us,” said midfielder Rafael Baca. “We have to get focused again and start playing better. It is as simple as that.”

In addition, the 3-0 result marked the third straight shutout defeat on the road for San Jose this season. So far in 2013, the Quakes have conceded an MLS worst 14 goals on the road while only netting 3 goals themselves.

“We didn’t come out with the effort that we needed tonight,” said goalkeeper Jon Busch. “This game is about how much you want it and they wanted it more than us. No excuses, we just have to work harder and come out ready to play next game.”

The Earthquakes will look to rebound from the 3-0 shellacking suffered in Sandy when they return to action against the Colorado Rapids following a two week break in the MLS calendar. Drifting further away from playoff eligibility with nearly half the season gone, San Jose will need to improve on their 0-5-2 road record if they hope to stay competitive in a difficult Western Conference race.

After talking all week about coming out strong in Saturday night’s match, San Jose saw their promising start soon dissolve away as Real Salt Lake quickly asserted control of possession. Frailties in the Quakes midfield opened the door for RSL to counterattack at will throughout the first half, and by the halftime whistle, the home side had outshot the Earthquakes 12 to zero on their way to a three goal lead.

Real Salt Lake began their first half onslaught in the 16th minute after the Earthquakes had given the ball away too easily near the center line. U.S. World Cup veteran Findley collected a pass on the right wing and created a shot from a tight angle that goalkeeper Jon Busch parried away. Unfortunately, the ball rebounded right to Morales inside the area and the RSL playmaker beat Busch for the opening goal.

In the 33rd minute, Salt Lake doubled their lead through former Earthquake midfielder Grabavoy. Another counterattack effort from the home side freed Morales on the wing with space to fire a cross through the Quakes area. Joao Plata, who had tormented the Earthquakes during San Jose’s season opening loss to RSL, dummied the cross through to Grabavoy unmarked 15 yards from goal. His uncontested shot easily eluded Busch and earned him his third goal in his last three games.

RSL stretched their lead to 3-0 in the 38th minute as again the Earthquakes defense was unable to deal with the relentless pressure from the home team. Plata out-dueled emergency centerback starter Brad Ring on the left side of the penalty area before hitting a hard crossing pass into traffic. Jason Hernandez got a foot to the ball, but he could clear it only as far as Findley lurking at the edge of the area. The forward, with plenty of time to tee up the ball, fired a shot inside the far post to give Real Salt Lake a 3-0 lead.

Sensing the game was getting out of hand, Yallop made two changes in the 40th minute in an effort to shake up the disparity in midfield possession. Rookie Adam Jahn and Sam Cronin made way for Steven Lenhart and Rafael Baca and helped San Jose settle the game down in the minutes leading up to intermission.

Down three goals and with little else to play for but pride, the Earthquakes opened up the second stanza with a fight that was missing for the first 45 minutes. With Lenhart paired up top with Alan Gordon and Baca partnering with Walter Martinez in the center of the formation, San Jose showed much more verve in the attacking third. If not for the spectacular play of RSL ‘keeper Rimando, the Earthquakes would have certainly eaten into the 3-0 deficit on a number of quality scoring opportunities. Instead Rimando kept a clean sheet against San Jose that started with RSL’s season opening 1-0 win at Buck Shaw Stadium.

The Earthquakes made their final substitution in the 85th minute as Mehdi Ballouchy made his season debut, but RSL saw out the final minutes of the match to secure an impressive victory. The Earthquakes suffered consecutive shutouts for the first time this year after going the entire 2012 season without such ignominious results.

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