The San Jose Earthquakes failed to give their fans the Easter gift they all hoped for Sunday afternoon, falling to visiting Real Salt Lake 1-0 in their second regular season game ever at Avaya Stadium.
Javier Morales scored his second goal of the season just before half time, connecting on a screaming volley from outside the box to give Salt Lake the game’s only goal.
The loss is the second consecutive defeat for San Jose (2-3-0) and their first ever at Avaya Stadium. Conversely, Sunday’s victory was the second consecutive victory for Salt Lake (2-0-2) who remain undefeated after four games.
In what proved to be a physical game even by MLS standards, defender Shaun Francis was forced to leave the game amid concussion concerns. Should the injury be serious, Francis would be the third fullback sidelined for San Jose, who are already without Jordan Stewart and Marvell Wynne.
Defensively is where Salt Lake dominated the Quakes Saturday, thwarting San Jose’s attack minded 4-1-4-1 formation with Adam Jahn making his first start of the season up top. Chris Wondolowski blamed a lack of cohesion on the flaccid attack:
“I thought at times we were too individualistic … You have to really move and pass the ball to break them down, and we didn’t do a good enough job at that tonight.”
Jahn was relegated to only a single goal scoring opportunity, rolling a back heel finish wide in the first half.
Using their heads
Two aerial collisions were the story of the first half, leading to a goal and an early exit for Francis.
Photos by Scot Tucker/SFBay
San Jose striker Innocent Emeghara caught RSL’s Luke Mullholland with an elbow to the face in the 42nd minute, leading to a yellow card for the Swiss international and a Salt Lake free kick 20 yards in front of goal. Salt Lake’s Morales hit the initial free kick into the San Jose wall, but blasted the rebound into the top right corner of David Bingham’s net. The goal continues a stellar run of form for the Argentinian, who notched two assists in last week’s victory over Toronto.
Emeghara and Mulholland’s coming together followed a more serious collision eight minutes prior, when San Jose’s Shaun Francis smashed heads with RSL’s Jordan Allen going up for a header. Francis was forced to exit, with midfielder JJ Koval filling in the already depleted back line.
Kinnear’s post-game comments indicated that Francis has a concussion:
“Shaun is not doing well. He’s by himself in a dark room right now.”
Another scary collision took place in the 70th minute, when Victor Bernardez was kneed in the head by Salt Lake’s Devon Sandoval, after completing an acrobatic goal line clearance. Bernardez would leave the game nine minutes later. The clearance thwarted what looked to be a surefire goal scoring opportunity.
Kinnear said after the game that Bernardez’ removal was strictly tactical and not due to an injury concern.
Hand ball controversy
The San Jose Earthquakes appealed demonstratively to referee Armando Villarreal in the 58th minute, when an apparent hand ball when uncalled in the Salt Lake penalty box.
While the consensus among the sold-out crowd of 18,000 was clear from their exasperated reaction to the replay, Salt Lake defender Chris Schuler didn’t seem to know much about the ball that bounced off his outstretched hand after deflecting off his foot. This must have been the opinion of Villarreal as well, who elected to let play continue.
San Jose completes its two-game home stand next Saturday, hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps at 7:30 p.m.