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Real Salt Lake tops San Jose Earthquakes in 4-3 thriller

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There wasn’t a dull moment as SJ’s Javier Lopez scored a hat trick, Rubio Rubin scored a brace and Albert Rusnak added a goal and two assists of his own.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at San Jose Earthquakes Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

After seven goals, four lead changes, three equalizers, a San Jose hat trick, a red card decision reversed, and nine minutes of stoppage time, the game finally ended with Real Salt Lake on top with a final score of 4-3. Rubio Rubin bagged a brace while Albert Rusnak grabbed a goal and two assists. Justin Meram also got himself a goal as the visitors escaped PayPal Park with all three points.

RSL started the game with a diamond midfield with Nick Besler as the lone defensive midfielder. Justin Meram and Jonathan Menendez played on each side with Albert Rusnak at the point of the diamond.

San Jose opened the scoring in the 26th minute, taking an early 1-0 lead. Javier Lopez collected a long ball over the top on the far right side and dribbled toward goal. With just Erik Holt standing in his way, he dribbled around him and sent in a curling shot from just inside the 18. It sailed out of David Ochoa’s reach and into the back of the net.

The visitors pulled back an equalizer just before halftime off a corner kick. The ball came sailing in and found Damir Kreilach’s head, who sent it straight toward goal. Quakes goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski dove and parried the ball back into play where Rubio Rubin was able to bounce it back in with his chest and into the goal in the second minute of first half stoppage time.

Real Salt Lake went into the halftime break with 52 percent of possession and 100% shooting accuracy, with all seven shots ending up on frame.

RSL grabbed an early goal in the second half courtesy of Albert Rusnak assisted by halftime sub Pablo Ruiz. He collected a cleared ball from an SJ defender and immediately sent it to Rusnak near the top of the box. After dribbling around a defender to get clear, he let a shot rip from the top of the box and it flew past Marcinkowski and into the net.

On the very next play from kickoff, the Quakes scored an equalizer less than a minute later thanks to Javier Lopez doubling his tally on the night. He dribbled down the right side and absolutely juked Donny Toia with a chop, and as Toia fell to the ground he streaked toward the goal. He fired a shot that flew between Holt’s legs and into the back of the net, putting the teams back on level footing again at 2-2.

It didn’t take too long for San Jose to take the lead again as Javier Lopez secured his hat trick by scoring a difficult goal from a corner kick. His corner sailed in toward the net and while Ruiz jumped to try and head it, it sailed past him while Ochoa got a hand to it but still went in the back of the net.

Just moments later, RSL got yet another equalizer when Rusnak sent in a free kick toward the goal. Justin Meram got a head to it and it headed into the net after deflecting off of a San Jose defender, tying the game at 3-3 again.

Kreilach was shown a straight red card just a few minutes later after he accidentally touched the face of defender Tanner Beason behind him, who immediately went to the ground. After a brief video review, the referee downgraded it to a yellow card and Kreilach was able to stay on the field.

In the 81st minute, Rubio Rubin got his second goal of the game just moments before he was set to be subbed off after Rusnak found him in space with a beautiful through ball past the SJ defense. Rubin calmly slotted it in to take the 4-3 lead for RSL with less than 10 minutes left to play.

After some more close calls for both sides, the game finally ended 4-3, with RSL outshooting the Quakes 18-12 overall and 13-5 on frame. The win sees RSL jump above the playoff line and into sixth place just ahead of LAFC on goal differential.