We here we go, it is match day and Real Salt Lake find themselves at Jeld-Wen field in Portland to take on the Timbers. The match will start at 8pm MT and is on ABC 4, KALL 700, Direct Kick, and MLS Live, so you have lights of options to catch the action. Plus you will have this thread to post your comments, check out my in match thoughts and updates.
So the first thing we need to deal with is the lineup and for RSL a few changes as some guys come back from injury and a couple others are being rested as RSL will play 3 matches in the next 7 days.
RSL: Nick Rimando, Chris Wingert, Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran, Ned Grabavoy, Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales, Luis Gil, Alvaro Saborio, and Paulo Jr.
RSL Bench: Kyle Reynish, Chris Schuler, Terakazu Tanaka, Will Johnson, Yordany Alvarez, Jonny Steele, Fabian Espindola
Timbers: Troy Perkins, Lovel Palmer, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace, Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Eric Alexander, Jorge Perlaza, Kris Boyd
Bench: Jake Gleeson, Mike Chabala, Steve Purdy, Franck Songo'o, Freddie Braun, James Marcelin, Bright Dike
as the match gets underway you will find updates after the jump:
Well a first 5 minutes it looked really good for RSL, then a couple mistakes lead to some chances of the Timbers, but RSL has created the more chances and forced more saves, they have had about 60% of the possession and are completing a very high percentage of their passes 82%.
There have been some technical issues on ABC4 that I hope they work out soon, not sure if it is weather or something else but it isn't impacting MLS Live's broadcast.
So the score at 15 minutes in is 0-0 but I would have to say that RSL has been the better or the teams so far, and clearly have created the more dangerous chances.
Well RSL did well the first 15, but to start the second 15 minutes RSL has looked rough as the Timbers have started to apply some big time pressure, one thing is sure the action is hot and heavy on both ends of the pitch as these teams are playing very offensive soccer. RSL is dodging bullets right now and they need to get back on track quickly and take advantage of Portland moving so many bodies forward, they are ripe for a quick counter if RSL can get organized..
I have to say that Wingert is having a bad offensive night but he has made a couple solid defensive moves. It is kinda amazing that RSL started so well and have fallen off so quickly, The numbers still say RSL is the better side but the action has clearly become more level on the pitch. A good set of possession for RSL in the Timbers final third but come away without even getting a shot as Portland quickly counters but give the ball up to Rimando. Wow you sometimes forget how good Jamison Olave is, shame that play won't be nominated for save of the week. Big save by Perkins to prevent an Saborio goal, RSL get another corner kick their 4th but nothing comes of it and quickly Portland counters and get the ball on the RSL half of the pitch. We are still 0-0 but I have a feeling we won't be that way for long.
Well RSL was almost victimized by a bad miss of an offside call, but the Timbers are unable to find the back of the net and we are still at 0-0 but this one has been action packed at both end of the pitch, there is no quit in either of these teams, both teams are doing a good job of getting bodies in the area, but so far neither has been able to get a goal but it has been fun to watch.
It is almost as if each side is letting the other move forward with numbers and try to do something to get a goal, and then when they don't the other side gets their chance to move forward with numbers and give it their best, every once in a while the teams get a little possession in the midfield, but both side are trying to get. Jorge Gonzalez is the official tonight and not Mark Geiger, due to a late injury.
RSL gets a PK because of a hand ball, could have been a red but only a yellow card is given. Still RSL will get a shot from the spot. Sabo steps up and takes it and puts it into the back of the net and that is a 1-0 lead for RSL, and the Timbers come right back down the pitch and get a quality shot but it goes just wide. RSL needs to get their act together to ensure they can head into the locker room for the half with the lead.
It is interesting that the Timbers haven't scored the first goal in any of their 4 matches yet this year.
Well it has been a mixed bag as each team has really created some changes in the first half as the match is really quick and going from end to end. RSL has had some good spells of possession and lead that battle with 58.2% in the first half, RSL also leads 8 to 7 in shots and 4 to 3 in shots on goal, and most importantly 1-0 on the scoreboard. I thought this would be a fast paced and exciting match and it has lived up to my expectations.
I think the first half is exactly the kind of 45 minutes the team needed coming off last weekends loss to Chivas USA, they created some good chances, got a goal, and withstood some real pressure by playing good defense and a couple saves by Nick Rimando.
45 minutes to go in Rose City, now bring home the win boys #BelieveRSL
OK, I expect that the Timbers will come out with some real fire as they look to even up the score, can RSL turn that aggression around and find a way to get a second goal as Portland pushes? So neither side makes a change to start the second half, and given how evenly played the first half was, I can understand that. Sabo gets a ball and is 1 v2 but they sandwich him and he goes down a bit too easily for me, like to see him fight more in that position.
Just like I thought, the Timbers come out, and put some pressure on, and the Timbers get a goal as Darlington Nagbe finds the back of the net just past the finger tips of Nick Rimando. Now can RSL answer? A solid run down to the Timbers goal but Beckerman's shot finds side netting but that is the type of response you want to see.
So if you read my preview you will know why Alvaro Saborio and Darlington Nagbe were my wildcards for this match, both are very dangerous. RSL is applying some tough pressure but the Timbers withstand it and are slowing down the play a bit to catch their breath as RSL is putting some real pressure on them all over the pitch. A chip by Javier and it forces a save by Troy Perkins who makes a nice save. This one is picking up in intensity, as if that was possible.
Huge shot by Sabo and it goes off the post as the Timbers are lucky that they haven't given up another goal, folks if you aren't watching it, you need to find a way to watch the rest of this one, it is going to be exciting. i still expect another goal at least from RSL, as they are really applying some great pressure on the Timbers who are caught a bit on their heels right now, but capable of countering quickly.
Now the Timbers get a couple cracks at a second goal, but the defense of RSL holds up, oh my this is one is showing no signs of slowing down.
It looks as if Will Johnson is ready to get his first minutes of the 2012 MLS season, Will can bring a bite to the pitch that might be just what RSL needs for the final 30 minutes as Luis Gil comes off, Luis has played so very well this match that it is a shame to see him going off but I think this might be the right move, proven guys who have dealt with high pressure situations in the past.
RSL is still dominating possession, completing better than 80% of their passes and now they need to turn that into more chances on goal. Portland is showing no sign of being happy with the draw as they are fighting hard for every ball and the match is starting to get a little bit chippy. Portland is pressing high with numbers, can RSL find a way to get the ball back and get behind them? The offside flag goes up on Paulo Jr,
Portland makes their first change as Jorge Perlaza is out and Franck Songo'o is into the match for the Timbers. Wow from distance Darlington Nagbe takes a shot that is just out of Nick Rimando's range and it is 2-1 for the Timbers as the shot is from the top of the area and just inches beyond Nick's finger tips. Now RSL has a very had task as they have allowed the Timbers to take the lead and will need something special to get the draw let alone the win. It is probably time for us to see Fabian Espindola to come on and bring his energy and skill, it could be just what RSL needs.
I told you this was going to be an exciting match, and it has lived up to that and then some as both sides are playing with a ton of energy and both are playing very positive and attractive attacking soccer. The change is made as Paulo Jr. is off and Fabian Espindola is on, I have to say Paulo did a lot of little things very well tonight, now can Fabi bring RSL back into the match?
75- end of the match
Well now Portland is playing with a bit more confidence than earlier as they aren't content to protect their 2-1 lead, they are looking to try to add to it, if they can. A great ball played thru the area by Fabi but neither Sabo or Will Johnson could find it as it simply rolls thru the area and nothing comes of a great effort. Wow a great ball from Javi finds Ned Grabavoy, who takes the shot but it goes just wide. Portland makes a defensive move as Diego Chara is off and James Marcelin is on.
RSL make their final change of the night as Jonny Steele comes on for Tony Beltran, as it is clear that Jason Kreis is going to push for another goal or two, as RSL fights for the result. With just 10 minutes left in the match, Portland haven't gone into a defensive shell, but they are clearly playing a bit deliberately, they earn a corner kick and Nick Rimando has to come up with a big save to keep RSL with a chance in this one. Clearly RSL is going to push for an equalizer but they have to be careful not to give up another one.
Fabi gets a look from the top of the area, but his shot goes just wide, as RSL are still looking for the goal that will get them back into this match as the clock continues to get closer to 90. A good ball in by Javi bounces in the area but Perkins is able to grab it but that was a dangerous chance. I have to give credit where credit is due as Troy Perkins has had a very solid night and James Marcelin is simply trying to beat RSL into submission, and he has a yellow and still playing a very thugish style.
Time is running out for RSL to get themselves back in the match. The Timbers fail to convert off the free kick and RSL dodges another bullet but will need to do something as the Timbers are now playing 10 men behind the ball as they look to protect their lead. Jonny Steele works some magic inside the area, and finds himself able to push the ball past the keeper, my goodness he has some sweet feet and RSL is now tied 2-2 and the last few minutes could be nuts in this one.
Portland comes right back and force RSL's Nick Rimando to make the save and the 4th official shows that there will be 3 minutes of stoppage time, will this match end up a 2-2 draw or will someone find some late magic? RSL putting together a run, a foul stops the run and RSL gets the free kick but Kyle Beckerman gets a yellow for dissent and RSL keeps the ball in the Portland final third as Kyle then puts it in the back of the net as stoppage time clicks away as RSL goes up 3-2 with just second left.
So it was funny that some people asked why RSL would take Jonny Steele with them and leave rookie Sebastian Velasquez at home, well you get a more experienced player, plus you get to rest a young man who isn't used to playing this many matches. Then Jonny goes and walks himself into the area and past the Timbers defenders and scores a late goal to equal the match, and scores his first MLS goal. Then as the clock winds down, RSL captain Kyle Beckerman gives the official an earful after the Timbers get a bit chippy, in return he gets a yellow card for dissent, and how does he respond, easy, he just fires a cracker of a shot into the back of the net to get the game winner for RSL on the road at the Portland Timbers.
This was a good match for RSL, they gave up some goals on incredible shots by Darlington Nagbe, but both sides played very attractive, very positive soccer and RSL move to the top of the Western Conference with the San Jose Earthquakes as both teams have 9 points and +4 goal differentials.
RSL pick up their first win over the Timbers, and this should provide them with some momentum as they head back to Salt Lake City as they will play host to the expansion side Montreal Impact on Wednesday, and then will play the first match of the 2012 Rocky Mountain Cup on Saturday as they play host to the Colorado Rapids.
A great night for RSL who showed no quit and fought hard to get a well deserved 3 points. What a night.
OFF MY SOAPBOX