Throughout the years Real Salt Lake has been known for starting fast -- and giving up maddening late goals.
On Saturday, March 15 at Buck Shaw Stadium in San Jose, RSL found itself up 3-1 going into halftime -- then inexplicably watched in horror as its defense allowed two goals in the second half from Earthquakes forward Victor Bernardez to settle for a 3-3 draw.
“I think if we didn’t give them any fouls or free kicks and defended set pieces well, it’s a different result; probably a win for us tonight, but we have some stuff to work on. It’s early in the year,” RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said at the post-game press conference.
RSL started guns-a-blazing after San Jose -- and U.S. international -- Chris Wondolowski poached a sitter in the 6th minute.
Soon thereafter, it was RSL midfielder -- and Wondo’s U.S. teammate -- Kyle Beckerman knotting it up at 1-1 in the 11th. Forward Joao Plata then continued his scoring streak, notching a cracker in the 32nd off of a brilliant square pass from Luis Gil.
Plata sidestepped two Earthquakes defenders before he unleashed a rocket past San Jose keeper Jon Busch. Then in stoppage time of the first half rookie midfielder Luke Mulholland got his first Major League Soccer goal.
After that, however, RSL’d bend-but-don’t break defensive philosophy got put to the ultimate test over the next 45-plus minutes -- and finally that dam broke in the 75th minute -- as well as at the death -- as Bernardez helped the Quakes salvage a home draw.
That said, Cassar didn’t sound like a coach who was disappointed about the outcome in his postgame remarks.
“I’m just really proud of the guys. Four points in two road games – super pleased with that. It feels like a loss right now, but at the end of the day, it’s a point on the road against a very difficult team,” Cassar said.
RSL now heads home to Rio Tinto Stadium later this week for a rematch against the Los Angeles Galaxy.