Real Salt Lake 2: Portland Timbers 1
by Kali Korbis
Real Salt Lake clinched its fifth consecutive playoff spot with a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
In a match that truly personified the old adage of a “match of two halves”, Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales both scored for RSL in a dominating first half performance, while Bright Dike found Portland’s only goal of the match as the Timbers tried to rally in the second half but ultimately failed.
Real, although playing at home, faced a bit of a challenge as leading scorer Alvaro Saborio was forced out of the lineup due to a shoulder injury sustained in the CONCACAF Champions League.
Espindola ultimately stepped up to earn his first goal since June in the 14th minute on a free kick, while Morales doubled RSL’s lead in the 36th minute on another set piece strike.
However, the second half swung in the favor of the visitors, who battled back despite the absences of several key players through injury, including midfielder Diego Chara and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
Bright Dike found the back of the net for the Timbers in the 61st minute, latching onto the end of Sal Zizzo’s cross and losing Real defender Jamison Olave to get in a position to score.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando was forced to make several key saves to keep Real in the match, but the home side was able to hang on for the victory.
Rimando said of the result:
“I think we could have scored 5 or 6 goals tonight. We got to put our opportunities away. Especially at home, and against teams who are fighting for their jobs. It’s only going to get harder and if we don’t put our chances away, other teams will. I think 3 points is great, but we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we did get lucky on getting 3 points tonight.”
Meanwhile, Morales said after the match:
“This is the most important part of the year for every team in the MLS. Playoff and tough games with the CONCACAF, we have to be ready. It’s best to be able to make a good run in the last couple of months like tonight.”
Portland manager Gavin Wilkinson said:
“We kept challenging them. We challenged them at halftime. To come into Salt Lake and be at 2-0 at halftime and wonder how it’s happened…two set pieces and when you’ve got quality people taking them it’s very dangerous. The second one was fantastic. I thought Bright Dike came on and added a bit of life.
I would like to do a little more in the final third. I think that comes with maturity. I think the possession stance of this team has changed dramatically from what they were. We look a lot more comfortable with the ball, but results are what it takes.”
REAL SALT LAKE 2 : 1 PORTLAND TIMBERS FC
SATURDAY, SEPT. 22, 2012
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 2 0 2
Portland Timbers 0 1 1
Scoring Summary: RSL – Fabían Espíndola (Javier Morales) – 14’
RSL – Javier Morales – 36’
POR – Bright Dike (Sal Zizzo) – 61’
Misconduct Summary: RSL – Jamison Olave (tackle from behind) – 80’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2) – Nick Rimando; Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman (c); Ned Grabavoy, Will Johnson; Javier Morales (Luis Gil 92+’); Paulo Jr. (Emiliano Bonfigli, 67’), Fabían Espíndola (Yordany Alvarez 83’)
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Chris Schuler, Kenny Mansally, Jonny Steele
Portland Timbers (4-5-1) – Joseph Bendik; Steven Smith (Bright Dike, 46’), Mamadou Danso, David Horst, Kosuke Kimura (Eric Alexander, 67’); Franck Songo’o (Khalif Alhassan 82), Rodney Wallace, Jack Jewsbury, Sal Zizzo; Darlington Nagbe, Danny Mwanga
Substitutes Not Used: Scott Angevine (GK), Eric Brunner, Mamadou Danso, Mike Fucito
Referee: Kevin Stott
Referee’s Assistants: Corey Parker, Jason Cullum
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Sunny and 86 degrees