SAN JOSE, Calif. (ABC4 Sports) – Jefferson Savarino scored a dramatic goal in the 95th minute as Real Salt Lake battled back to earn a 2-2 draw on the road against the San Jose Earthquakes.
Justin Meram found an unmarked Savarino at top of the six-yard box, and he blasted his team-leading fifth goal of the season past San Jose keeper JT Marcinkowski as RSL earned a point on the road.
“It was a difficult game,” Savarino said. “I was trying to put myself in those positions to either set up my teammates or score that goal, but thanks to God, Meram was able to give me a good set up and I was able to put it away.”
“There’s a crescendo as the game reaches the last few minutes of extra time,” said head coach Pablo Mastroeni. “But I really felt like we were in a position to be dangerous and to keep going. The body language of the guys, the energy of the guys on the touchline felt the same way. It was a moment where I thought, ‘If we get another ball that bounces in around the area and we have Diego [Luna] on the field, we have Rubio [Rubin], Anderson [Julio], [Justin] Meram, and [Jefferson] Savarino, we’re finding the back of the net.”
San Jose scored first on a penalty kick by Christian Espinoza in the 12th minute after RSL defender Justen Glad was called for a hand ball in the box.
But RSL leveled the match at one when Andrew Brody assisted on Jasper Loefellsend’s first career MLS goal in the 21st minute.
“I’m not really a natural goal scorer,” Loefellsend said. “I feel like I’m always the guy getting assists. But when I went on goal I saw the goalie coming out, I thought if I could keep my shot on frame and put it out of his reach then it would be a goal, and it worked out pretty well. It was a cheap finish at the end, but I’m very happy for my first goal and hopefully there is more to come.”
It stayed 1-1 until the 62nd minute, when Zac MacMath’s goal kick went awry and was taken by Espinoza, who quickly set up Jeremy Ebobisse, who beat MacMath for his 12th goal of the year.
RSL had a chance to knot the score in the 87th minute but Rubio Rubin’s close-range right-footer was saved by Marcinkowski.
However, Meram and Savarino saved the day in stoppage time as RSL avoided its second straight loss.
“It’s one of those things where you go down twice, you can put your heads down and feel sorry for yourself or you can lift your head up and work for one another,” Meram said. “You saw that today guys came in and made a difference. That’s probably one of the better performances I saw from Diego [Luna]. He was lively on the ball, being creative, and created a little bit of that spark for us. Anderson [Julio] spread the backline out for using his speed. All in all, it was a performance where we shot ourselves in the foot but we kept going.”
Real Salt Lake was efficient with its opportunities, placing six of its 12 shots on frame. San Jose, which won the possession battle at 62 percent, had 14 shots, putting four on frame.
With the draw, Real Salt Lake falls back to the fifth seed in the Western Conference with a record of 9-7-7.
RSL next hosts conference-leading LAFC Saturday, August 8th at 8:00 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium.