[U.S. OPEN CUP] Just a few days before its toughest back-to-back league matches this season, Real Salt Lake needed overtime and penalty kicks to subdue San Jose on penalty kicks, 5-3, after they finished 120 minutes of play tied at 3-3 in a U.S. Open Cup match Wednesday.
RSL drilled home all five of its penalties to rescue a game it had seemingly let slip by surrendering three straight goals after taking a 2-0 lead on goals by Robbie Findley and Nelson Gonzalez. A great run and shot by right back Chris Leitch midway through the second half cut the deficit in half, and Arturo Alvarez tied the game in the 88th minute by pouncing on a slip by defender Raushawn McKenzie and firing a low shot past RSL keeper Kyle Reynish, who got the start in place of Nick Rimando.
Both teams fielded a mixture of starters and backups for this Open Cup play-in match squeezed between weekend league matches. San Jose rested Bobby Convey, Joe Cannon, Ryan Johnson and Jason Hernandez. In addition to the injured Ned Grabavoy and Javier Morales, RSL didn’t field defender Jamison Olave.
RSL defender Chris Wingert and Quakes forward Cornell Glen both hobbled off with hamstring injuries as players from both teams slipped and skidded on a field slickened by recent heavy rains. Both teams used the full U.S. Open Cup allotment of four subs, and could have used a few more in a rough match played as temperatures dropped into the mid-40s amid gusting winds.
Quakes coach Frank Yallop brought on Brazilian striker Eduardo and soon replaced him with 17-year-old Gambian Omar Jasseh, whose signing was announced Tuesday, as substitutes for their first appearances of the season. Rookie midfielder Justin Morrow, who got the first minutes of his pro career and played the entire game, put away a feed from Alvarez in the 103rd minute to give San Jose its first lead of the night at 3-2.
Defender Nat Borchers wore the captain’s armband in place of Kyle Beckerman, who came on as a substitute after Leitch’s goal, and scored a dramatic equalizer in the 118th minute when Robbie Russell got free on the right flank and sent a cross Borchers headed through the hands of Jon Busch.
In the penalty-kick tiebreaker, Alvarez missed San Jose’s second chance, pulling his left-footed attempt a yard wide of the post. RSL gave Busch no chance on any of its kicks, and Andy Williams – also used as a sub – converted the final kick of a long night as RSL won its third straight shootout following victories over Chicago in the Eastern Conference final and Los Angeles in MLS Cup last November.
RSL advances to the second play-in round against either D.C. United or FC Dallas. The victory marked the first time RSL has won an Open Cup game on the road.
San Jose returns to league play Saturday when it hosts New England. Real Salt Lake will stay on the West Coast and head south for a MLS Cup rematch against Los Angeles prior to hosting Columbus next weekend.
April 14 in Santa Clara, Calif.
San Jose Earthquakes 3 Real Salt Lake 3 (Real Salt Lake wins 5-3 on penalties). Goals: Leitch 68, Alvarez (Corrales) 88, Morrow (Alvarez) 103; Findley 7, Gonzalez 60, Borchers (Russell) 118.
San Jose – Busch, Corrales, McDonald, Burling, Leitch, Robles (Alvarez, 60), Sanchez, Wondolowski (Eduardo, 61; Jasseh, 74), Morrow, Gjertsen, Glen (Beitashour, 13).
Real Salt Lake – Reynish, Beltran, Borchers, McKenzie, Wingert (Russell, 31), Johnson, Alexander, Warner (Beckerman, 69), Gonzalez (Williams, 61), Findley, Saborio (Espindola, 80).
Referee: Alejandro Mariscal.