SAN JOSE, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – In the wildest game of the season, Real Salt Lake rallied late to beat the San Jose Earthquakes, 4-3.
Rubio Rubin scored two goals, the game-winner coming in the 81st minute, as RSL moved into sixth place in the MLS Western Conference with the victory.
“There’s been so many variables within this group in the past two weeks,” said head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “When we huddled up in the locker room, Albert [Rusnák] grabbed the guys and said, ‘Fellas this is a must-win game. Whatever it takes, whether that’s taking the lead or coming back, this is a must-win game and we’ve got to do whatever it takes.”
Rubin scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season, and Real Salt Lake somehow overcame a brilliant hat trick from Javier “Chofis” Lopez Wednesday night at PayPal Park.
Albert Rusnak and Justin Meram also scored for Real Salt Lake, which snapped a five-match away losing streak and seven-match road winless run.
Meanwhile, the Quakes fell six points adrift of the West playoff line after losing their second straight at home and sixth overall. This despite a 79-minute shift from Chofis that was easily one of the best individual offensive displays in MLS this season, given the exceptional nature of each of his three goals that brought his team-leading total to eight for the season.
San Jose had late chances at a leveler even after the influential Mexican’s night ended. But David Ochoa denied Jackson Yuiell from close range and pushed away Oswaldo Alanis’ ferocious effort from distance, both during nine minutes of second-half stoppage time.
“I think overall Pablo has done a fantastic job making us take ownership and putting other teams on their heels, completely going forward more and taking the game to them,” Rubin said. “We showed it against LAFC and obviously the result didn’t go our way, but then tonight we got the three points which is the most important thing. I am just happy that we were able to get on the front foot and be on the attack and be able to create chances. We’re excited to host Seattle on Saturday, we’re looking forward to that matchup. It means a lot to all of us and we’re looking forward to it.”
The night might also have finished differently had Nima Saghafi’s red card to Damir Kreilach been upheld. But after Saghafi watched a Video Review of Kreilach’s arm catching Tanner Beason in the neck area during an aerial challenge, he reduced the booking to a yellow.
Real Salt Lake (9-9-6) next hosts the Seattle Sounders Saturday night at 7:30 p.m at Rio Tinto Stadium.
“We need points.,” Rusnak said. “We dropped points in LAFC after a good performance, but I thought today we did more than we did in LAFC. Our performance was better. Still a couple of mistakes that cost us goals, but we scored two goals at LAFC and four goals today and if four goals today wouldn’t be enough to get three points then we’d be very disappointed.”