SANTA CLARA, Calif.– Real Salt Lake (1-0-0, 3 points, T-1 in West) won its 2013 MLS regular season opener on Sunday night, getting two second half goals from FW Alvaro Saborio to down defending Supporters’ Shield winners San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-0, 0 points, T-6 in West) 2-0 at Buck Shaw Stadium.
Saborio scored both goals in the final 20 minutes, putting the Claret-and-Cobalt ahead in the 71st minute before doubling the advantage in the 85th.
RSL started the match slowly, nearly going behind on several occasions in the first half. San Jose FW Chris Wondolowski had the game’s first chance in the 15th minute. The 2012 MLS MVP got on the end of a loose ball in the six-yard-box following a corner kick, bouncing a shot off the ground that RSL GK Nick Rimando – who earned his 100th career regular season shutout on Sunday – deflected off of the crossbar.
San Jose FW Mike Fucito nearly put the ‘Quakes on top in the 21st. The diminutive attacker dummied a ball for Wondolowski at the top of the box, quickly running into the right side of the area to collect Wondolowski’s return pass before firing a 10-yard shot just wide of the far post.
RSL had its first chance of the game in the 24th minute. Claret-and-Cobalt MF Luis Gil had the look, slicing through the midfield and playing a give-and-go with FW Robbie Findley to get into the left side of the box. Gil then pulled the ball back to free himself up for a shot, curling a right-footed effort toward the far post that San Jose GK Jon Busch cruelly denied.
Wondolowski missed a clear chance in the 34th minute. A cross from the left side found a wide open Wondolowski at the spot, but the newly-minted DP couldn’t keep his first-time volley on target, meekly hitting it wide of the left post and out of bounds.
RSL had half chances in the 41st and 53rd minutes. MF Sebastian Velasquez had the first opportunity, dribbling through several San Jose defenders on the right side before knuckling a long-range shot that Busch could only punch away. Former San Jose MF Khari Stephenson had the later look, running onto a Findley through ball in the left side of the area and ripping a shot that was deflected out for a corner.
Real Salt Lake dodged a bullet in the 58th minute, when Wondolowski shockingly missed the target on a free header from 10 yards out following a San Jose set piece.
RSL FW Joao Plata entered the match for Findley in the 65th minute and had an immediate effect; nearly getting on DF Tony Beltran’s cross in the 68th before beautifully assisting on Saborio’s opener in the 71st.
Plata collected a pass from DF Kenny Mansally near the midfield stripe, turning and chipping a fantastic through ball behind the San Jose back four. Saborio was quick to read the play, sprinting past an Earthquake player and running onto the ball just inside the box before burying his 15-yard half-volley inside the near post with his first touch.
Saborio doubled the Claret-and-Cobalt’s advantage in the 85th minute. MF Luis Gil started the play, playing a square ball to MF Kyle Beckerman in the middle of San Jose’s defensive third. The RSL captain – who made his 300th career regular season appearance on Sunday – then hit a no-look pass to Saborio in the left side of the box, setting up the Costa Rican international for a left-footed smash that found the inside of the far post.
RSL will play San Jose in a Reserve League game on Monday morning. The Claret-and-Cobalt will return to Salt Lake City on Monday night, training in Utah just once before heading to the nation’s capital for Saturday’s match at D.C. United. RSL will open its home schedule at Rio Tinto Stadium against rival Colorado Rapids on March 16.