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Brian Nicholson, Deseret News
San Jose's Alan Gordon scores a goal over RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando and Nat Borchers on Saturday.

SANDY — Making his first start since May 9 because of what he attributes to a pinched nerve in his back, Real Salt Lake midfielder Javier Morales had some bright moments on Saturday night.

None was bigger than his 79th minute curling free kick.

The goal temporarily leveled the score for Real Salt Lake, and reiterated why it's so important for RSL to get Morales healthy for the second half of the season. His free kicks are a weapon that not many teams in Major League Soccer have.

Morales played 30 minutes last Saturday at Chivas USA and then another 30 minutes against Los Angeles on Wednesday.

RSL coach Jason Kreis was excited to give Morales his first start against San Jose, but the length of his stint on the field was up in the air.

"He got better as he went along. I was really concerned to play him for the full 90 minutes, but kept talking to him and was very positive about the fact that he wanted to stay out there," said Kreis.

At the exact midpoint of the season for Real Salt Lake, Morales has only started seven of 17 matches with two goals and four assists.

Saturday's inclusion in the starting lineup was Morales' first since May 9 at Chicago, a match he was subbed out of in the 28th minute.

OWNING UP TO HIS MISTAKES: RSL defender Nat Borchers has never been one to cast blame or hide from his mistakes and Saturday was no different.

Borchers' slight hesitation on a free kick in the 75th minute led directly to San Jose's first goal.

Afterward, Borchers said he's entirely to blame.

"There's no reason for me to stop, so I hold my hand up on that one. No question about that," said Borchers.

SOMETHING'S MISSING: It's hard to believe that a team with arguably the best collection of goalkeeper, back four and defensive midfielder is having such an average defensive season, but that's the reality facing Real Salt Lake.

Even though only six teams have surrendered fewer than the 19 goals RSL has allowed in 17 games, it's no secret the team is struggling to keep balls out of its net.

"Team defense is not going our way, we're just leaking goals from mistakes all over the field. It's not just the guys at the back. We're giving up teams goals, and if you want to be a championship team you can't expect to win games 3-2. The best teams in the world win games 1-0 with good team defense, and right now we've got nothing close to good team defense," said Will Johnson.

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SITTING ONE OUT: Hopefully Kyle Beckerman isn't a big fan of Columbus, Ohio, because he won't be accompanying Real Salt Lake next week to face the Columbus Crew.

Beckerman was on a yellow card warning heading into Saturday's match with San Jose, and he was officially booked for a foul right before the half.

In MLS, players receive an automatic suspension once they receive five yellow cards. There's a good behavior incentive for going three straight games without a yellow card after reaching No. 4, but Beckerman has already crossed that threshold.

email: jedward@desnews.com