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Real Salt Lake hope to benefit from Quakes’ shaky defense

Jul 23, 2022; Sandy, Utah, USA; Real Salt Lake defender Andrew Brody (2) looks to pass to forward Justin Meram (9) against FC Dallas forward Paul Arriola (7) in the second half at Rio Tinto Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake will aim to break out of a six-match funk when they visit the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night.

Real Salt Lake (9-7-6, 33 points) reside in fourth place in the Western Conference despite stumbling through the 1-3-2 stretch.

Things bottomed out last Saturday as Real Salt Lake were blanked 1-0 by FC Dallas to end their 10-match home unbeaten streak.

Dallas scored in the 14th minute and then backed things up while Salt Lake blasted shot after shot at the net. But RSL put just five of those 25 shots on target.

“It was just one of those games where we could have created 10 more chances and they still wouldn’t have gone in,” RSL coach Pablo Mastroeni said afterward.

Salt Lake may have more success finding the back of the net against the Earthquakes (5-9-7, 22 points).

San Jose has allowed 43 goals, tied with D.C. United for most in the league. The Earthquakes are also on a downslide after dropping consecutive 2-1 decisions to the Houston Dynamo and Portland Timbers and stand 13th in the West.

Last Saturday at Portland, San Jose took a 1-0 lead on Benji Kikanovic’s goal in the 42nd minute. But the Earthquakes allowed second-half goals in the 53rd and 71st minutes and went down in a frustrating setback.

Kikanovic said the club needs to quickly solve the defensive issues.

“I just think as a whole group we need to stop leaking goals left and right,” Kikanovic said afterward. “That starts from up front because we start the defense all the way to the back. If we are going to keep leaking goals like this then it’s not going to happen, the playoffs are not going to happen.

“It (stinks) to say and I’m being blunt but it’s the honest truth. We can score, that’s not the problem. We can score but sometimes defensively, I don’t know if we don’t concentrate enough, I couldn’t tell you what it is, but it’s on every single one of us.”

The San Jose offense continues to receive stellar play from Jeremy Ebobisse (11 goals) and Cristian Espinoza (five goals, seven assists).

Sergio Cordova and Jefferson Savarino lead Salt Lake with four goals apiece.

Salt Lake defeated visiting San Jose 2-0 on June 18 behind goals from Marcelo Silva (22nd minute) and Savarino (81st).

–Field Level Media