For Real Salt Lake it was a chance to rebound from their first loss of the MLS season, and a chance to get their first win over the Portland Timbers, in what may have been the most exciting and entertaining match of the early MLS season (at least according to USA Today) RSL pulled out a stoppage time win, check out the official recap and facts from teh RSL communications team:
REAL SALT LAKE COMPLETES DRAMATIC 3-2 WIN IN PORTLAND
Saborio & Steele Notch First Goals of 2012, Setting Stage for Beckerman Blast in 93+ in Massive Comeback Road Win
PORTLAND, Ore. (Saturday, March 31, 2012) - Real Salt Lake remained perfect on the road two games into the 2012 MLS campaign, overcoming a pair of spectacular long-range goals from Portland Timbers sensation Darlington Nagbe early in the second half to emerge victorious via a 3-2 win. The dramatic come-from-behind road victory was fueled by all three ofJason Kreis' substitutes, as veteran MF Will Johnson set up the 89th-minute equalizer from RSL newcomer MF Jonny Steele, before FW Fabian Espíndola - who did not start for the first time since Sept. 24 at D.C. last year - scooped a ball from the deep corner back to an onrushing MF Kyle Beckerman, the RSL captain burying the game-winner at the game's death to seal the three points.
The victory, combined with home losses for Western Conference rivals Los Angeles Galaxy (1-3 to New England) and Seattle Sounders FC (0-1 to Seattle), moved Real Salt Lake (3-1-0, 9 points) atop the West alongside the San Jose Earthquakes (also 3-1-0) just four games into the 34-game MLS regular season.
more after the jump
With both MF Javier Morales and FW Álvaro Saborío earning their first starting nods of 2012, RSL was able to amass a commanding 61-39 edge in possession percentage for the second consecutive week. Unlike last week's 0-1 home loss to Chivas USA, however, RSL finished its chances, seizing a 1-0 lead in the 39th minute courtesy of a penalty-kick conversion by Saborío, following a handball in the box by the Timbers' Rodney Wallace.
The 1-0 halftime advantage was short-lived, however, as Portland's second-year star Nagbe pulled the trigger from distance in the 48' from 20 yards out, a low screamer blazing past a shielded RSL GK Nick Rimando. Just 17 minutes later, Nagbe struck again, hitting a ball from just inside the corner of the penalty box over Rimando and just under the bar to give the 20,438 Timbers faithful reason to celebrate.
Veteran RSL defender Nat Borchers also made his 2012 debut, starting alongside fellow MLS Best XI-caliber centerback Jamison Olave for the first time since the team's 3-0 home win over Seattle in the 2011 Western Conference Semifinals last October. Borchers went a full 90 in his debut, while Morales and Saborío also went 90 for the first time this season.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
- The win for Real Salt Lake was just its fourth across all competitions on artificial turf (4-13-8) in the team's eight-season history (the team's MLS Cup 2009 win at Qwest Field in Seattle is officially a tie).
- After using the same XI in back-to-back-to-back games for first time in 122 games during RSL's opening three games, Head Coach Jason Kreis trotted out three new starters - Borchers, Morales and Saborío - for the first time in 2012.
- Another player returning from injury tonight was MF Will Johnson, available for selection for the first time this season. The veteran left-sided engine also featured prominently in the midweek Reserve League game, playing 73 minutes against the Chicago Fire Reserves on Tuesday.
- After making his RSL / MLS debut on March 17 against New York with a six-minute cameo, MF Jonny Steele saw his minutes increase with last week's 19-minute appearance before coming on for the final 11 minutes in place of DF Tony Beltran, scoring his first MLS goal with the 89' equalizer.
- Tonight's affair was the lone road game for RSL in a stretch of four-out-of-five at home, coming back to Rio Tinto Stadium for two games this week: Wednesday, April 4, will mark the Utah side's inaugural match against the expansion Montreal Impact (0-3-1, 1 pt.); three days later, RSL kicks off the first of three intense Rocky Mountain Cup matches against rival Colorado Rapids (2-1-0, 6 pts.). Kickoff for both matches is set for 7:00 p.m. MT; tickets can be purchased at www.RealSaltLake.com or by calling (801) 727.2701.
PORTLAND TIMBERS 2 : 3 REAL SALT LAKE
SATURDAY, MARCH 31, 2012
JELD-WEN FIELD - PORTLAND, OR
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Portland Timbers 0 2 2
Real Salt Lake 1 2 3
RSL - Álvaro Saborío 1 (penalty kick) 39
POR - Darlington Nagbe 2 (Eric Alexander 1) 48
POR - Darlington Nagbe 3 (Eric Alexander 2) 65
RSL - Jonny Steele 1 (Will Johnson 1) 89
RSL - Kyle Beckerman 1 (Fabian Espíndola 1) 93+
POR - Eric Brunner (dissent) 38
POR - James Marcelin (foul) 85
RSL - Kyle Beckerman (dissent) 92+
Portland Timbers (4-4-2) - Troy Perkins; Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Andrew Baptiste, Rodney Wallace; Diego Chara (James Marcelin 76), Jack Jewsbury (c), Eric Alexander, Darlington Nagbe; Kris Boyd, Jorge Perlaza (Franck Songo'o 64)
Substitutes Not Used: Jake Gleeson (GK), Mike Chabala, Freddie Braun, Steve Purdy, Bright Dike
Real Salt Lake (4-1-3-2) -- Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran (Jonny Steele 78), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (c); Ned Grabavoy, Luis Gil (Will Johnson 59), Javier Morales; Paulo Junior (Fabian Espíndola 70), Álvaro Saborío
Substitutes Not Used: Kyle Reynish (GK), Yordany Alvarez, Terukazu Tanaka, Chris Schuler
Referee: Jorge Gonzalez
Referee's Assistants: Sean Hurd, Steven Taylor
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Attendance: 20,438 (sellout)
Time of Game: 1:59
Weather: Rainy and 48 degrees
So there you have it, and when you read the details it just lacks something, there is no way to capture the excitement of this match in words, it was perhaps one of the best examples of what Major League Soccer can be. It featured two teams of players who went 90 minutes playing positive, aggressive, attacking soccer, it was simply one of the best matches I have seen in a very long time. So here are the highlights from mlssoccer.com:
OFF MY SOAPBOX