“Another good win for us,” Gordon said. “It’s been a common theme and we’re used to it. It’s kind of crazy, but we’re rolling right now.”
The victory allowed San Jose (10-3-3) to move into first place in the Western Conference. Javier Morales scored for RSL (10-5-2), which suffered its second straight home loss in MLS action and third consecutive setback at Rio Tinto Stadium overall.
The Earthquakes opened the scoring in the 76th minute when Ramiro Corrales played a long ball down to Gordon inside the box. Gordon headed the ball over Nick Rimando before he could get to it. The ball bounced across the goal line and into the net to give San Jose a 1-0 lead.
It didn’t last long. Morales struck in the 79th minute. He blasted the kick over the five-man wall and toward the left post. Busch tried to bat the ball away, but it slipped through his fingers and evened the score at 1-1.
San Jose gained advantage again in the 84th minute when Gordon headed a throw-in to Wondolowski’s feet. He sent a right-footer at Rimando and the veteran keeper attempted to cover it up. The ball slipped out of his grasp and continued into the net to give the Earthquakes a 2-1 lead.
For Gordon, it was another solid effort at just the right time. San Jose coach Frank Yallop said Gordon is still not 100 percent match fit after recovering from hip surgery last season. But Yallop knows he can count on Gordon to make a difference late in matches.
“He has a knack for scoring goals,” Yallop said. “That never goes away from you.”
Gordon has embraced his role as a substitute. He relishes the chance to give his teammates a boost every time he comes onto the field.
“I’m always looking to come in and add a little energy,” Gordon said. “The last two games have been at altitude and guys are tired. I’m coming in to give fresh legs.”
Good defensive play from both teams set the tone during the first half. San Jose and Salt Lake each created plenty of scoring chances. Finishing those opportunities proved problematic. Goalkeepers Jon Busch and Rimando traded fantastic saves to keep it scoreless going into halftime.
Even while the match remained scoreless for more than 70 minutes, Yallop never wavered in his belief that his team would find a way to get three points.
“For me, it’s about putting your body and your mind on the line,” Yallop said. “Our guys have done it all season. We never quit and that’s a great trait for any team to have.”
It is a trait RSL is searching for again after a tough week. Salt Lake could only look back and see a pair of games filled with missed opportunities. Real’s defense has also struggled.
“We’re a little bit weak right now,” midfielder Will Johnson said. “We’re not finishing up plays or games. We’re not staying sharp and focused throughout the whole play. The goals we’re giving up are really poor mistakes.”
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