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MLS: RSL weathers the storm with win over San Jose

Published March 19, 2011 11:02 pm

MLS • Beckerman's goal in 64th minute was all team needed.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Santa Clara, Calif. • Jerseys whipped in the wind like ship sails in a squall, rain cascaded in sheets in the shine of the stadium lights, and players slipped and slid all over the spongy grass.

Hardly a night for attractive soccer, in other words.

Nevertheless, Real Salt Lake opened its Major League Soccer season with a 1-0 victory over the San Jose Earthquakes at soggy Buck Shaw Stadium on Saturday night, in a game that conjured memories of the first one in franchise history six years ago because of the miserable weather.

That night, RSL played to a scoreless draw against the New York Metrostars — now the Red Bulls — in an epic storm at Giants Stadium that at times blew the ball the wrong way on the artificial turf. It wasn't quite that bad against the Earthquakes, but pouring rain and winds gusting to 30 mph did not make anything easy.

"We were slipping all over the place," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.

Yet RSL still emerged with its second straight season-opening win over the Earthquakes on the road, thanks to Beckerman's strike in the 63rd minute and a series of remarkable saves by goalkeeper Nick Rimando — capping a wild and entertaining opening weekend around MLS.

"Huge," coach Jason Kreis said. "Big-time important. To get the goal from Kyle and then to just battle, and then it became a little bit of a war of attrition there at the end for us. I'm glad that the clock ran out."

Not a moment too soon, obviously.

The Earthquakes were pouring numbers forward in the final minutes, trying desperately for an equalizer while RSL fought mostly in vain to clear balls into the teeth of the wind.

"We just couldn't get the ball out of our own half, to save our lives," defender Nat Borchers said.

Good thing for RSL it was enjoying the cushion that Beckerman had given them.

Only a couple of minutes after San Jose's Jon Busch stopped RSL's Ned Grabavoy on a breakaway that appeared as if it might be the team's only real scoring chance all night, Beckerman took a pass from Javier Morales near the top of the box and fired past Busch and off the left post.

"I just kind of looked around and was fairly wide open," Beckerman said.

Rimando took it from there, stoning San Jose's Chris Wondolowski on one shot in the 71st minute and getting a foot on the rebound try from Simon Dawkins, the Quakes' newest player on loan from Tottenham Hotspur in England who had arrived just a day earlier.

Rimando parried another shot just moments later, and corralled, deflected and otherwise handled everything the Earthquakes threw at him.

"Another huge, huge performance by Nick," Kreis said.

Of course, it didn't hurt that Wondolowski all but whiffed on a header at point blank range in the 13th minute, keeping the reigning MLS scoring champion from giving the Quakes a lead that probably would have changed the complexion of the game against an RSL team playing without injured central defender Jamison Olave.

"We wanted to get off to a good MLS start," Beckerman said. "We definitely came here for a win."

mcl@sltrib.com —

MLS opener RSL 1, San Jose 0

P IN SHORT • RSL beats San Jose for its second straight season-opening win.

KEY STAT • RSL is unbeaten in eight straight league road games.

KEY MOMENT • Kyle Beckerman scores in the 64th minute, giving RSL all the cushion it needs. —

Real Salt Lake the Barcelona of MLS?

V It seemed to be a favorable comparison, the one in a recent article by the Reuters news agency that said coach Jason Kreis strives to have his RSL team play like FC Barcelona, by most accounts the best team in the world. Except Kreis said it wasn't quite right. Kreis said the Reuters' article overstated the idea that RSL has modeled itself after the Spanish giants.

> sltrib.com/blogs/rsl




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