Real Salt Lake 4: Portland Timbers 2
by Kali Korbis
Real Salt Lake defeated the Portland Timbers 4-2 on Friday night in another entertaining match between the two teams, this time at Rio Tinto Stadium in Salt Lake.
RSL’s blazing start, which saw two goals in the first 15 minutes, put the Timbers on their heels early. Luis Gil scored the first goal in the 9th minute after a series of passes went through the midfield and finally to Joao Plata, who laid the ball off for Gil’s shot.
Plata earned a goal of his own in the 15th minute, using some excellent skill on the ball to beat Andrew Jean-Baptiste and slide his shot off the goalpost into the net.
Plata was modestly pleased with the result, remarking when asked if he preferred to score or provide assists:
“For me, either way. Goals or assists are important for me, but the most important thing is that the team wins. I want to be able to be a part of a winning team, and for everyone to be successful.”
However, the Timbers mounted a comeback midway through the first half, which eventually led to Darlington Nagbe pulling a goal back on a well-taken strike from distance in the 31st minute. Unfortunately for Portland, Diego Valeri sustained an injury and had to be taken off immediately afterward, dealing the visitors a huge blow as they sought to capitalize on their newfound momentum.
The match grew increasingly chippy as the first half wore on, with a few scuffles breaking out among the players and referee Baldomero Toledo doling out several yellow cards.
That physicality ultimately ended up in disaster for the Timbers as Ben Zemanski was given a straight red for a tackle on Ned Grabavoy just before the halftime whistle. The controversial decision left Portland down a goal and down a man for the remainder of the match.
Timbers coach Caleb Porter said of the decision:
“I thought it was a harsh, harsh call. Anybody that knows Ben Zemanski knows he’s not trying to hurt anybody and he went for the tackle and he got it late but it wasn’t malicious. I thought it was unfair but you know, refs make mistakes, players make mistakes, coaches make mistakes. There were a lot of mistakes today but that was a pivotal – I think turning point in the game.”
RSL did its best to capitalize on the man advantage, scoring a third goal in the 55th minute. Javier Morales collected Plata’s cross and managed to mitigate an odd bounce on his first touch by sending a bicycle kick past Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts for the goal.
After Alvaro Saborio scored a fourth for Real, heading home a Morales corner kick in the 67th minute, it seemed as though RSL might run away with the match.
The Timbers had other ideas, however. Second-half substitute Sal Zizzo pulled another goal back for Portland in the 78th minute, taking advantage of a rebound off of Nick Rimando and setting up an interesting denouement to the match.
Despite their fight, however, the Timbers were unable to find another goal, and the match ended with a two-goal difference in favor of Real. The victory put RSL seven points ahead of the Montreal Impact in the Supporters Shield race going into the month of September.
RSL’s Jason Kreis said of his team’s performance:
“Obviously, it was a fantastic start with two goals in the first fifteen minutes – the tempo, the play in the first half, what we were able to do to get at them early on – it changed the whole landscape of the match. Interestingly enough, they played with three defenders at the beginning, which I think had some tactical consequences.”
Porter said of the match:
“Well, it’s very humbling. That was not fun to be a part of that game. Credit to Salt Lake, they showed why they’re the best team in the league to this point.
They punished us and we weren’t good enough to win that game. There were certainly some factors that played into the game.
The red card at 2-1 was a pivotal moment. But that’s not why we lost the game. That certainly was a factor, with some guys out we have a younger group that lacks experience. But that’s not why we lost the game. But that certainly was a factor. With some guys out we have a young group that lacks experience.
For us to be 2-1 – down a man, in that second half against a team the caliber of Salt Lake who has a lot on the ball, who has dynamic individual players that can hurt you – that was going to be a difficult thing to overcome and in the end we couldn’t overcome it.
But the red card wasn’t why we lost the game. We lost the game because we made mistakes, individually and collectively in our defending and they punished us. They deserved to win. We need to evaluate this, every aspect of it, we need to take responsibility for it – not just the players, but myself – and then we need to correct it. Again, it’s very humbling.”
REAL SALT LAKE 4–2 PORTLAND TIMBERS
FRIDAY, AUG. 30, 2013
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 2 2 4
Portland Timbers 1 1 2
RSL – Luis Gil (Joao Plata, Kyle Beckerman) – 9’
RSL – Joao Plata (Ned Grabavoy) – 15’
POR – Darlington Nagbe (Michael Harrington) – 31’
RSL – Javier Morales (Joao Plata) – 55’
RSL – Alvaro Saborio (Javier Morales) – 67’
POR – Sal Zizzo – 78’
RSL – Carlos Salcedo (Yellow; Foul) – 40’
POR – Andrew Jean-Baptiste (Yellow; Argument) – 44’
RSL – Joao Plata (Yellow; Argument) – 44’
POR – Ben Zemanski (Red; Foul) – 45+2’
RSL – Luis Gil (Yellow; Dissent) – 48’
RSL – Kyle Beckerman (Yellow; Foul) – 58’
POR – Diego Chara (Yellow; Foul) – 65’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (C); Luis Gil (Sebastian Velasquez, 72’), Ned Grabavoy; Javier Morales; Joao Plata (Robbie Findley, 61’), Alvaro Saborio
Substitutes not used: Lalo Fernandez (GK), Abdoulie Mansally, Brandon McDonald, Cole Grossman, Devon Sandoval
Portland Timbers (3-4-3): Donovan Ricketts (GK); Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Rauwshan McKenzie, Michael Harrington; Kalif Alhassan, Ben Zemanski, Diego Valeri (Alvas Powell, 32’), Diego Chara; Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo, 74’), Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia, 46’), Rodney Wallace
Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic (GK), Futty Danso, Bright Dike, Steven Evans, Sal Zizzo
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, C.J. Morgante
4th Official: Robert Sibiga
Weather: Clear and 94 degrees