Recap: Real Salt Lake 3, San Jose Earthquakes 4

Cade Cowell and Carlos Fierro each scored a goal and added an assist Saturday afternoon as the San Jose Earthquakes stunned Real Salt Lake 4-3 at Rio Tinto Stadium, putting a dent in RSL's Audi 2021 MLS Cup Playoff aspirations.

RSL could have clinched a postseason berth with a victory plus some help from other Week 34 Western Conference results, but instead are in danger of slipping out of the playoff places. Minnesota United FC, who host Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, could still surpass them into seventh.

In what was another wild encounter between RSL and San Jose, the hosts grabbed an early lead through Albert Rusnák. A clever give-and-go between Rusnák and Damir Kreilach freed up the Slovakian midfielder, who calmly finished to make it 1-0 nine minutes in.

The majority of the first half was then dictated by RSL – including a glorious chance from Rubio Rubín that was denied by JT Marcinkowski – but that didn't prevent San Jose from equalizing in the 37th minute. Fierro got on the end of Cowell's cross, punching home to level the match at one goal apiece.

Momentum quickly shifted San Jose's way, as Chris Wondolowski put the visitors ahead just before halftime. The 38-year-old striker rose highest on a short corner kick and headed in for the 2-1 lead. The goal was Wondolowski's fourth of the season and 170th MLS tally of his illustrious career.

Cowell, who finished seventh on this year's 22 Under 22 presented by BODYARMOR list, provided a moment of solo magic in the 69th minute. Receiving an outlet pass from Marcinkowski in his own half, the 18-year-old homegrown turned on the after-burners before beating RSL defender Justen Glad and burying to make it 3-1 San Jose. The goal was Cowell's first since July 3 against Minnesota, snapping a 20-game scoreless streak.

Jackson Yueill added one off a turnover for the 4-1 advantage and it proved to be a vital marker, as Maikel Chang got one back for the hosts in the 85th minute and Rusnák added another during injury time to bring RSL within one. Yet the late-game flourish proved to be too little, too late.


  • 9' – RSL – Albert Rusnák | WATCH
  • 37' – SJ – Carlos Fierro | WATCH
  • 45+3' – SJ – Chris Wondolowski | WATCH
  • 69' – SJ – Cade Cowell | WATCH
  • 79' – SJ – Jackson Yueill | WATCH
  • 85' – RSL – Maikel Chang | WATCH
  • 90+3' – RSL – Albert Rusnák | WATCH
  • THE BIG PICTURE: Saturday's match was right on queue, as San Jose and Real Salt Lake have now scored a combined 17 goals across their three meetings in 2021. But the biggest takeaway is surely RSL's missed opportunity to move closer to clinching a playoff spot. They will likely now have to earn a result against one, if not both, of Portland Timbers and SKC in their final two matches of the season. San Jose were previously eliminated from the playoffs.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Cade Cowell's solo run showed exactly why there's so much hype around the 18-year-old.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH: Cade Cowell. Not only did he have a wonderful goal in the second half, but he also created San Jose's opener out of nothing.

Up Next

  • RSL: Wednesday, November 3 vs. Portland Timbers | 10 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)
  • SJ: Sunday, November 7 vs. FC Dallas | 6 pm ET (MLS LIVE on ESPN+)