The San Jose Earthquakes picked up a point against one of the strongest teams in MLS on Saturday evening, putting behind them a mostly forgettable three-game stretch that saw them concede five goals in one game and four in another.
And though the playoffs seemingly looking more and more distant, Saturday night's 1-1 home draw with Real Salt Lake produced a mostly positive reaction from Quakes head coach Mark Watson, most notably surrounding Sam Cronin's opening goal.
The sequence happened in the 15th minute when Chris Wondolowski nicked the ball off US World Cup teammate Kyle Beckerman after an RSL throw-in and drove into the box before feeding Cronin for the finish.
“We knew Real Salt Lake is a good possession team, so we wanted to put as much pressure on them as possible – force them to kick the ball upfield and give the ball away,” Watson told reporters after the game. “The goal [we scored] actually came from that [type of pressure]. They tried to play out of trouble, we won the ball and scored.”
San Jose were visibly upset by the call, but it made no matter as Javier Morales tucked home the spot kick for an equalizer that would stand as the final goal of the game.
It was a small blemish for a Quakes backline that head coach Mark Watson said “did really well” on the night,
“They have some pace, some quality players and our defense had to play well for 90 minutes,” Watson said. “I thought everybody played well tonight. The effort, the performance, and the application of the game plan was fantastic. Real Salt Lake is a good team and they were pushing as well, but I feel badly for our players because I thought they deserved the full three points tonight.”