Real Salt Lake 2 vs. 2 San Jose Earthquakes
July 30, 2022; PayPal Park, San Jose, California
Real Salt Lake (9-8-7, 34 points); San Jose Earthquakes (6-9-8, 26 pts)

Head Coach Pablo Mastroeni

On what went right and what went wrong:

“We struggled in the first half with our defensive rotation, finding pockets and really causing us a lot of grief. But the good that came from that was our ability to counter. We had a goal in the first half and in the second half, we all but crossed a line on another good counter. The subs that came in really made a big difference and really pushed the game. Overall, the mentality of the group is fantastic. It’s not easy to go late in extra time to find a result, but if there’s one thing about this group–fantastic mentality, great resilience, and great teamwork.”

On Diego Luna’s impact:

“He’s a fantastic young man and the questions he asks tactically, for me, says a lot about his desire to grow, his soccer acumen, and more importantly, he wants to get to the highest level. He’s a unique talent–he has this ability to possess the ball in tight areas and really link. When he came to the game, I felt like he created a little buffer, not only for himself, but for his teammates. Being able to play the ball, hold them up, link play–his growth has been fantastic since the time he’s arrived. We’ve played him in the 10, and tonight he played as a double pivot, so I think the sky is really the limit for Diego [Luna]. As he continues to get more minutes, he has the potential to be a star in this league and beyond. I’m just really excited about his humility, his work ethic; there’s nothing I can say about him in a negative way for being a young man, being so mature for his age, and this vision that he has for himself. Tonight was a fantastic performance for him.”

On the emotions when the final goal was scored:

“There’s a crescendo as the game reaches the last few minutes of extra time, but I really felt like we were in a position to be dangerous and to keep going. The body language of the guys, the energy of the guys on the touchline felt the same way. It was a moment where I thought, ‘If we get another ball that bounces in around the area and we have Diego [Luna] on the field, we have Rubio [Rubin], Anderson [Julio], [Justin] Meram, and [Jefferson] Savarino, we’re finding the back of the net. It was just an unbelievable finish from Savarino who’s been lethal in front of the goal since joining the group and continues to impress in whichever position he plays, but the positions that he was picking up as we were making a push towards the end were fantastic–to not only set his teammates up, but to find the equalizer.”

Forward Justin Meram

On making the most of their last possession:

“It’s always tough in this league to go on the road. San Jose is always really good at home; you saw how they kept the possession. We shot ourselves in the foot twice tonight, and those instances ended up being their two goals. I’m proud of the group for being resilient and always fighting back. We didn’t quit. We were exhausted and were fighting all the way into the 93rd minute. Anderson [Julio] got it in the middle, played me out wide and I just tried to create a little bit of magic to get the ball into the box and Jefferson [Savarino] put it away. An all in all grindy performance from the guys, and I couldn’t be more proud. It wasn’t the prettiest but you roll your sleeves up and get a point on the road. Can’t ask for much more than that.”

On how important grit is to get a result like this:

“It’s one of those things where you go down twice, you can put your heads down and feel sorry for yourself or you can lift your head up and work for one another. You saw that today guys came in and made a difference. That’s probably one of the better performances I saw from Diego [Luna]. He was lively on the ball, being creative, and created a little bit of that spark for us. Anderson [Julio] spread the backline out for using his speed. All in all, it was a performance where we shot ourselves in the foot but we kept going.”

On what the group has improve on heading into playoff races:

“We have to finish our chances. We have to put half chances on goal and full chances need to be put away. We had one chance that we missed that would have changed the whole game because it would have been 2-1 and they would have had to throw everything at us. But they got that goal, and our backs were against the wall on the road and we had to find one. It was the same thing against Dallas. We had tons of chances and we just have to put them away. If we start finishing more chances as a group, we will be hard to break down and win more games.”

On the 95th minute goal:

“It was a difficult game. I was trying to put myself in those positions to either set up my teammates or score that goal, but thanks to God, Meram was able to give me a good set up and I was able to put it away.”

On playing in a more central position:

“Currently the team needs me there. I’ve always said I like to be on the right, but we have Bobby Wood injured, Damir Kreilach injured so I’m happy to play there and happy to play anywhere. As the games go by, I’m picking up rhythm and getting better in that position.”

On if the team is happy with the result:

“We’re happy with it. You go out every game looking for the win. In this we were chasing a bit, coming from behind, but thankfully we were able to get a tie against San Jose and not slip too much in the table. Yes, San Jose is towards the bottom of the table, but they are also playing really well at home. Any time you go into someone else’s home field and try and take points from them is very difficult, so to be able to get the draw today is a good thing.”

Midfielder Jasper Loeffelsend

On his first MLS goal and finishing ability:

“I’m not really a natural goal scorer, I feel like I’m always the guy getting assists. But when I went on goal I saw the goalie coming out, I thought if I could keep my shot on frame and put it out of his reach then it would be a goal, and it worked out pretty well. It was a cheap finish at the end, but I’m very happy for my first goal and hopefully there is more to come.”

On San Jose’s press:

“I don’t know if I had more pressure on me than the other guys on the pitch. San Jose did a really good job at not allowing us to build out of the back. I don’t feel like it was my best game. I took too many touches on the ball, wasn’t as sharp as I wanted to be, and got stuck more often than I wanted to. I don’t know if that was the game plan for San Jose or if they were trying to force us to go through the middle because they had more numbers there but they did a really good job. I felt like they had the upper hand in the center of the pitch but I don’t know how you guys see it. We had some good moments and bad moments but there’s always something to move forward to. I don’t want to turn the ball over in those costly spaces and that didn’t really happen much, but there’s going to be other situations where it can cost us.”