SANDY — It can't really be called a breakout game when three goals are scored against a deflated 10-man team, but it still kind of felt that way Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
After a sluggish first half, Real Salt Lake scored four goals in the final 30 minutes en route to a convincing 4-0 victory over an overwhelmed San Jose team that never seemed interested in playing for the win.
"They really came in not to lose, they didn't come to win the game, and it's tough when you play against teams like that cause they're going to sit in, sit in and sit in," said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, who scored the game's third goal.
Salt Lake didn't really deal well with San Jose's slow tempo in the first half, but it certainly picked it up after halftime in front of a sold-out crowd of 19,429.
With the victory, RSL improved to 9-3-6 as it tries to chase down the Western Conference leaders who've all played four and five more matches. The result also extended RSL's unbeaten streak to seven straight (3-0-4), the third-longest in team history behind the 18-game streak from 2010 to 2011 and the 10-game streak last summer.
There was a bit of a black eye on the victory, though.
RSL's first goal seemed to be the result of some theatrics by Alvaro Saborio — not that anyone was necessarily complaining after being victimized by a Charlie Davies dive with D.C. United earlier this year. San Jose defender Bobby Burling didn't appear to touch Saborio as he darted in front of him in the penalty area, but Saborio went down anyway and the ref immediately pointed to the penalty spot.
As what happened on the play, Saborio simply said, "PK, that's what happened."
The ref initially showed defender Brad Ring the red card, but corrected the mistake after much confusion and griping by San Jose's players. Three minutes after the call, Saborio stepped up and buried the penalty kick just inside the left post to put Real Salt Lake ahead 1-0 in the 63rd minute.
San Jose coach Frank Yallop hadn't seen a replay of the red-card offense when he addressed the media, and wouldn't comment on whether he thought it was a dive, but there was certainly doubt in the tone of his voice.
"We're trying to cut that out of the game, I'm hoping that he didn't. I'm hoping it's a penalty kick 'cause that's the story of the game. Not that we would've won the game, but I miss Bobby Burling 'cause we're going to miss him in the next match," said Yallop.
Suddenly down a goal and down a man, San Jose was in big, big trouble at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"After that, the flood gates came open and we were able to poor it on," said Beckerman
Over the next 20 minutes, RSL scored three more goals to finish with four for the first time since a 4-1 win over Los Angeles on March 26.
Saborio doubled the lead by burying a Ned Grabavoy rebounded shot in the 75th minute. Beckerman made it 3-0 in the 78th minute, and then Jamison Olave tacked on a fourth goal in the 83rd minute.
Beckerman hugged and kissed the right post after the goal, and said it was a necessary display of affection.
"First time I've scored on that (north) side. I thought I was cursed on that side of the field," he said.
Real Salt Lake finished the game outshooting San Jose 24-3 and 13-1 with shots on goal. Even though Kreis was disappointed with the sluggish start to the match despite his players coming off a 10-day break, he said the second half was much more indicative of RSL's play lately.
"I feel like we've been improving every single match for five or six matches, and I think this was No. 7 in the league. We're still looking for 90 minutes of good play," said Kreis.
RSL returns to action at home next Saturday against Columbus.