SALT LAKE CITY — Real Salt Lake and the San Jose Earthquakes went into the weekend with just one point separating the two teams in Major League Soccer’s Western Conference standings.
For most of their game Saturday night at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, RSL and the Earthquakes played a game about as tight as their standings positions. A late-game defensive lapse proved the difference, though, as San Jose’s Danny Hoesen scored the game-winner in stoppage time of the Earthquakes’ 1-0 victory.
The Earthquakes capitalized on a quick corner kick in the 93rd minute, as Paul Marie fed the ball in front of the goal and an unmarked Hoesen, as he was sliding, hit a right-footed shot past Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando for his fourth goal of the season.
"(We) just took a half-second off and we got punished. This one hurts," RSL midfielder Brooks Lennon said during the KMYU TV postgame broadcast.
With that, what looked like a solid road point for RSL turned into no points and San Jose leapfrogged Real in the Western Conference standings with 28 points, two above RSL. The Earthquakes went into the match unbeaten in their previous seven home matches, with six wins and a draw, and extended the streak with the stunning late-game goal.
Both teams went into the contest on short rest, playing their third game in eight days. For San Jose, it was its fourth match in 11 days.
RSL missed a golden chance to score in the 65th minute when Lennon drove into the box and fed Nick Besler on the left side. Besler couldn’t capitalize, though, as his shot went past the far right post and in front of a closing Corey Baird harmlessly out of bounds.
Real finished with more shots on target than San Jose, four to three, though the Eaerthquakes controlled possession for 64 percent of the match.
"I thought that we were comfortable, we were in it. This one hurts. Soccer's a cruel sport. Sports are cruel in general. It takes literally 10 seconds to switch off and you get punched," RSL coach Mike Petke said during the KMYU TV postgame broadcast.
The contest marked yet another milestone for 20-year veteran Rimando, as he played in his 500th MLS game. Rimando, who’s set to retire at the end of the year and is the MLS all-time leader in games, saves and shutouts, had two saves in the game. His San Jose counterpart, Daniel Vega, had five saves.
Up next for RSL is a home contest against the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia Union next Saturday, July 13 at Rio Tinto Stadium in an 8 p.m. MDT start.
"It should hurt. It should very much hurt right now because we deserved a point out of that," Petke said.