SANDY — The San Jose Earthquakes finished the weekend in last place in the Western Conference, and that’s why Saturday’s 1-1 draw with the Quakes was so frustrating for Real Salt Lake.
A draw against one of the upper-tier teams in the West, even at home, would be a decent result that RSL could be pleased with. Dropping points against San Jose, however, is tough to stomach, especially considering how slanted the field seemed for most of the match.
Regardless of the disappointing outcome, several RSL players highlighted the positives and building on those heading into next weekend.
Perhaps the biggest positive is how frequently Real Salt Lake created scoring opportunities against last-place San Jose. That’s what you’d expect an upper-tier team to do against a lower-tier team, and that was the story for 75 of the 90 minutes on Saturday.
“Honestly, the other team didn’t come to play. They were just waiting on counterattacks, and that gave us a lot of opportunity to go forward and attack. The tie felt like a loss and we should have capitalized on the opportunities we had in front of goal,” said RSL midfielder Sebastian Saucedo.
RSL recorded 27 shots against San Jose, but only one found the back of the net.
Earlier in the season, generating 10 or 12 shots a game was a struggle, so approaching 30 shots against the Quakes is a clear indicator that RSL is trending upward regardless of the loss.
Despite creating so much, how did RSL come away empty so frequently?
“I’ll never say it was a lack of quality, because I think we have a lot of quality players. Bad fortune here, rushing it there, one touch too many, perhaps. … We had opportunities. So frustrating night, but a point nonetheless,” said RSL coach Mike Petke.
Perhaps the most glaring miss came in the 11th minute when Corey Baird chipped a breakaway shot wide of the post.
“Albert (Rusnak) found some space and the center back kind of half stepped. They sent me the ball and I scuffed the shot. There is not much else to say. That’s one of those chances that you have to put away, and it’s a completely different game,” said Baird.
Baird recorded an assist on Damir Kreilach’s goal early in the second half as RSL continued to pour it on.Comment on this story
“We created chances and dictated the whole game, so there is a lot of positives to take out from that game, but the end of the game is the most important result and that was not what we wanted today,” said Rusnak.
Next Saturday, RSL travels to Columbus, one of the upper-tier teams in the Eastern Conference, and Saucedo expects the positives from Saturday to carry over to that game.
“I feel like we’re in a great situation going forward to the next game. Everyone is still motivated to get three points in Columbus. Not every game is going to be perfect at home, but we have to go through slumps to be able to achieve those three points anywhere else,” said Saucedo.