SAN JOSE, Calif. — Real Salt Lake is making a reputation as a clutch team. After blowing a two-goal lead in regulation, it took RSL penalty kicks to beat the San Jose Earthquakes 5-4 in a shootout for a play-in game to qualify for the Lamar Hunt United States Open Cup.
Real went a perfect 5-for-5 in the shootout as Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Robbie Findley, Robbie Russell and Andy Williams all converted their attempts, and San Jose's hero earlier, Arturo Alvarez — who scored in the 88th minute to force extra time — missed as the first shooter for the Quakes.
"I was thinking as the game was winding down, 'I haven't had a lot of luck in Open Cup matches,' " said coach Jason Kreis in a radio interview. "Hopefully, this win will reverse some of that luck."
The game went back forth with several momentum swings. Just like in the two teams' MLS opener 18 days ago, Real got on the board early. In the seventh minute, Robbie Findley scored on a one-on-one chance, beating keeper Jon Busch.
Nelson Gonzalez added to the lead in the 60th minute. The Argentinean midfielder scored on a free kick from 22 yards with a left-foot blast that bent around the wall for the 2-0 lead.
Chris Leitch scored in the 69th minute for San Jose, and Alvarez evened it with just two minutes of regulation remaining.
San Jose went up in the 103rd minute as Justin Morrow scored on an Alvarez assist. But Real equalized when Nat Borchers scored on a header in the 117th minute.
Kyle Reynish started in goal for Nick Rimando as Real used an interesting mix of veterans and youngsters in its lineup. The midfield had rookie Collen Warner and second-year pro Jean Alexandre starting in the middle, before Williams and Beckerman entered. Rauwshan McKenzie got the start at the back. Unfortunately, a nightmare scenario occurred when starter Chris Wingert was replaced early by Robbie Russell with a strained hamstring.
Real moves on in the Open Cup to face either D.C. United or F.C. Dallas next month. The team must regroup for its fourth MLS game of the season at the Home Depot Center on Saturday against the Los Angeles Galaxy.