Another foul-strewn, stop-and-start match in the vein of most meetings between Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes ended in a 1-1 draw.
Real Salt Lake, coming in off a 2-1 loss against FC Dallas, may be the happier of the two teams, earning a point on the road after going down a goal in the first half.
The penalty that resulted in the game-tying goal for the visitors was awarded when Olmes Garcia was taken down as he pushed forward to reach a low cross from Abdoulie Mansally. Javier Morales put away the penalty kick with a trademark stutter-step that sent San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch one way and the ball the opposite direction.
Sam Cronin scored the opener for San Jose in the 15th minute after San Jose forward Chris Wondolowski retrieved an errant throw-in from Real Salt Lake's Tony Beltran. Wondolowski played to Cronin, who wasted no time with a quick strike into the bottom corner.
Chances came sporadically for both sides, but San Jose had the upper foot as it pegged RSL back through most of the second half.
RSL coach Jeff Cassar said his side struggled against a resolute San Jose side.
"It was a choppy match," Cassar said in a post-match interview on CW30. "San Jose did a good job getting numbers behind the ball, we didn't do an exceptional job breaking that down. We pushed; we wanted the three points for sure."
A corner in stoppage time and several free kicks gave San Jose several last chances to win, but Real Salt Lake showed some resolute defending of its own.
With the first half inching to a close, RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando made a quick-reaction save to keep the match level, clawing San Jose midfielder Atiba Harris' shot away from the touchline.
Rimando, the man who kept RSL in the game in some key moments, described the match as having "good fight" from his teammates.
"It was a weird one tonight, for sure," Rimando said in a post-match interview on CW30. "We're happy to get out of here with a result. One point's better than nothing.
Luke Mulholland had the first chance of the match for either side when he got on the end of a cross from the left flank by Mansally, but the ensuing header was sent well over stretching San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch.
There were several changes to Real Salt Lake's lineup coming into the match. The most surprising was Mansally, who has only started four games for RSL this season, replacing regular starter Chris Wingert at left back. Attacking midfielder Javier Morales returned to his starting spot after returning from injury, and Garcia started over Robbie Findley at forward.
Sebastian Jaime, the RSL newcomer who officially arrived in Salt Lake City on Aug. 22, was named to the bench for his first time, but the frenetic nature of the match meant his potential debut was pushed back at least another week.
Matt Montgomery is the managing editor of RSL Soapbox. Contact him at email@example.com.
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