SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – It wasn’t necessarily a must-win situation, but if Real Salt Lake was going to climb back into the thick of the playoff hunt, they had to have this one.
And the played like it.
The floodgates opened after a red card issued to San Jose’s Anibal Godoy, as Real Salt Lake scored three second half goals on its way to a dominating 4-0 victory over the Earthquakes.
“I’m extremely happy with the result, and the guys are as well,” head coach Mike Petke said. “It’s not anything drastically different than what we’ve been doing. It’s just that we found the back of the net.”
Albert Rusnak had a goal and an assist as RSL pulled to within three points of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“We knew what we were playing for,” Rusnak said. “We’re still fighting for the playoffs, and San Jose is right up there against us and Vancouver as well. Especially the home games, we just have to win. So I’m glad we did that in a great style today scoring four goals and keeping a clean sheet as well.”
RSL scored its first goal in the 29th minute when Rusnak sent a long pass downfield to Luis Silva, who nutmegged goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell for his fourth goal of the season to give Real a 1-0 lead.
After a goal by Joao Plata was called off upon review early in the second half because of an illegal challenge by Silva, a second yellow card was issued to Godoy in the 61st minute for slapping Rusnak in the face.
Down a man, San Jose could not stop RSL’s attack after that. Jefferson Savarino scored a beautiful goal on an impossible angle in the 68th minute to make it 2-0.
Then Plata set up Rusnak for his sixth goal of the season in the 80th minute to give Real a 3-0 advantage.
Yura Movsisyan closed the scoring with his team-leading 7th goal of the year in stoppage time for the final tally.
Nick Rimando made just one save in recording the 100th shutout with Real Salt Lake, and the 136th of his record-setting MLS career.
With the victory, Real Salt Lake improves to 9-13-5 on the season, trailing Vancouver by three points for the sixth seed in the Western Conference.
RSL returns to action Saturday at home against Colorado at 8:00 p.m.