SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake played some of their best soccer early in the game to dismantle the San Jose Earthquakes and continue their hot streak.
Javier Morales had a goal and an assist, as did Robbie Findley, and Ned Grabavoy tallied one against his former team, all in the first half of a 3-0 win at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday night.
Morales continued his prolific rate of accumulating points against San Jose — the playmaking midfielder now has six goals and six assists in 12 games against them — when he put the home side on the board in the 16th minute.
Findley did well to beat 'Quakes defender Justin Morrow down the right side and took the ball into the penalty area. The speedster hammered a shot that San Jose goalkeeper Jon Busch could only block, and the rebound went straight to the feet of Morales eight yards out, where the Argentine calmly slotted the ball into the open left side of the net.
In the 33rd minute, Morales added to his assist total. He took a pass down toward the right corner from Findley behind the defense and sent a cross toward the middle. Forward Joao Plata ran toward the ball at the near post, but somehow he knew Ned Grabavoy was trailing on the play. Plata did a cheeky step-over, leaving the ball for Grabavoy, who hammered a left-foot shot into the upper-right corner and the 2-0 lead.
Real extended their lead in the 38th minute. Plata again deserved an assist as he beat a defender in the box toward the left-side endline. He sent a ball across that a defender was just able to poke back out, but the ball went straight to the feet of Findley just inside the left corner of the 18. Findley curled gorgeous finish into the right side of the net to triple his team's advantage.
San Jose coach Frank Yallop had seen enough domination from Real at that point, and with Sam Cronin suffering a little knock and Adam Jahn limping, he made the two first-half substitutions as Steven Lenhart and Rafael Baca entered in the 40th minute.
The stats told the story of the opening half as Real had 12 shots, six of them on goal, to the 'Quakes zero. The home side had four corner kicks to none, had eight crosses to none and had 60 percent of the possession.
The 'Quakes had a much better second-half showing, but it still wasn't until the 58th minute of the game that San Jose got their first shot on target, a 40-yard blast from Walter Martinez.
San Jose created a couple of great scoring chances in the second half as reigning league MVP Chris Wondolowski got free on the right side of the box for a wind-up blast, but RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando was able to get an arm on it to knock it over the crossbar. Rimando made another save on Lenhart from close range to help preserve the shutout.
Real will continue their homestand as they host the reigning champion Los Angeles Galaxy next Saturday. San Jose have a week off before traveling to Colorado for a game against the Rapids on June 15.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Javier Morales (RSL)||When the Argentine plays well, RSL usually play very well. On this occasion he continued his long-running mastery of the Quakes with a goal and an assist.|
|2||Robbie Findley (RSL)||The striker is known for his pace, but tonight he showcased savvy movement and combination play — not to mention that delightful curling strike.|
|3||Joao Plata (RSL)||Is the Ecuadorian perfect for RSL, or what? His dummy on Grabavoy's goal was visionary, and he remains one of the league's most elusive challenges for defenders.|