SAN JOSE, Calif. — Real Salt Lake were moments away from the classic MLS smash-and-grab.
Go into your opponent’s stadium, push them around for a few minutes, and then defend, defend and defend. Maybe hold the ball in the right moments. But in whatever way, walk away with a crucial road point — often times the difference between making the playoffs or not.
Everything was going RSL's way for such a result in the Bay Area.
They even held the San Jose Earthquakes without a goal for 90 minutes.
There were just a few final seconds of stoppage time to tick off the clock. Then, it all was for nothing.
Danny Hoesen scored in the third minute of stoppage time and San Jose held on for a gritty, physical road win over Real Salt Lake 1-0 at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California.
“The message is it should hurt,” RSL coach Mike Petke said. “This should very much hurt right now because we deserved a point out of that. Look at Bofo’s opportunity, look at Besler’s opportunity; Marcelo’s header.
“Of course they had opportunities, too; don’t get me wrong. But this had better hurt. After 93 and a half minutes, it just takes a second to turn off you get punched.”
Daniel Vega earned the shutout in goal for San Jose (8-7-4, 28 points), which extended its home unbeaten streak to eight-straight matches with the win.
It was the 500th game of Nick Rimando’s storied professional career. Major League Soccer's all-time leader in every major goalkeeping statistic announced at the beginning of the season that 2019 will be his last.
He was agonizingly close to adding another shutout, too, and what would've been the fourth-straight result amid a busy stretch for RSL (8-9-2, 26 points).
In his first match since returning to RSL from the Copa America, Jefferson Savarino had one of the visitors’ best chances of the first half. The Venezuela international lobbed a right-footed shot into the side netting just inside the 20th minute, one of six first-half shots for Real Salt Lake.
The visitors came out in the second half with a flurry of activity, including three shots on target. But the ‘Quakes withstood the storm, and RSL looked content to settle for the draw and a point in the standings that keeps the razor-thin margin between itself and San Jose for sixth place in the standings. The visitors out-shot San Jose 12-11 through 90 minutes, including a 4-2 margin in shots on target.
And then came stoppage time. And the Earthquakes only needed one chance.
Hoesen, a second-half sub who played fewer than 30 minutes, redirected a cross from the right side past a hapless Rimando to steal the win and move above the playoff line in the Western Conference.
Real Salt Lake returns home for back-to-back home matches, beginning Saturday, July 13 against the Philadelphia Union. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. MDT on KMYU and KSL.com.