SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake was about ten minutes away from its third straight victory to open the season.
Then Chris Wondolowski took over.
The 38-year-old San Jose striker scored two goals in the in the 83rd and 87th minutes, as the Earthquakes came from behind to hand RSL its first loss of 2021, 2-1.
Rubio Rubin opened the scoring for RSL with a spectacular bicycle kick in the 43rd minute, as Real Salt Lake took a 1-0 lead into the half.
It stayed that way until the 83rd, when Wondolowki scored one of his trademark rebound goals past RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa to level the match at one.
Then, just four minutes later, Wondolowski headed in a cross from Carlos Fierro for the go-ahead goal.
“We can get a little closer to the cross and put a little more pressure on him and not let him pinpoint that,” said RSL head coach Freddy Juarez. “Once we’re in the box, we know we’re supposed to be man oriented, find your mark. We just lost a little bit of focus there and it’s a growing experience. I thought the boys gave their heart and soul. Of course, we all would like to win and be 3-0-0, but this is a learning experience. We played a very good team. This team will be trouble for any team in the league. I think the tempo was very high and we can build on this.”
Wondolowki now has 12 goals against RSL in his brilliant MLS career, more than any other player.
Wondolowski’s heroics overshadowed Rubin’s incredible goal, his third in two games, which ignited the crowd at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“I’m obviously very gutted with the result,” Rubin said. “We played hard for 80 minutes and just lacked concentration at some points in the last 10 minutes. We knew what they could bring, obviously Wondo. Going back to the goal, it was one of those moments that I’ve trained for all my life. My dad taught me from a young age how to do a bicycle kick and when Damir had it I knew that if I just got a good chest on it, I had all the freedom to let it go. Just happy it went in the back of the net. The result would have been better if we had won.”
Real Salt Lake (2-1-0) next hosts Nashville on May 15th at Rio Tinto Stadium at 7:30 p.m.