A 1-0 loss, a red card, a controversial penalty kick, and essentially losing out on the 2015 MLS playoffs are all elements included in the last time Real Salt Lake faced the Portland Timbers on October 14, 2015.
Both RSL and Portland came into this game needing a win to stay in playoff contention. When Jamison Olave took down Lucas Melano at the edge of the penalty box in the 52nd minute, the ref gave Olave a straight red for denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity—and rightly so.
What wasn’t so cut-and-dry was where the foul occurred. Replays show that contact was made just outside of the 18-yard box, and a free kick should have been awarded. Instead, referee Juan Guzman pointed to the penalty spot and Timbers forward Fanendo Adi calmly buried his shot low past Nick Rimando to secure the game-winning goal.
While Olave earned his third red card of the season, a 10-man RSL pressed on to try and find an equalizing and winning goal of their own. Despite a couple great chances, nothing panned out.
In the 69th minute on an attacking run that looked promising, Burrito Martinez sent in a cross to an unmarked Javier Morales waiting at the top of the penalty box. Javi fired in a beautiful shot on frame off the volley, but Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was barely able to get a hand to and send it over the bar for a corner kick.
Morales had another opportunity in the 91st minute when Justen Glad slid in a pass to him at the top of the box. Javi was able to cut around a Portland defender and send in a shot that, although deflected, caught Kwarasey slightly leaning the wrong way but still was able to get a hand to it and send it back out into play.
After five minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the whistle and RSL’s playoff chances were all but over. Despite finishing the match with 60.4 percent possession, seven shots (two on target) and an impressive 86 percent passing accuracy, they couldn’t get the job done.
Portland had jumped above the red line with the 3 points they secured at Rio Tinto, and would obviously go on to win their first MLS Cup championship in 2015.
Fresh off their first win of 2016 over Seattle, Real Salt Lake hopes to keep their momentum going when they travel to Providence Park to face off against the Portland Timbers and RSL legend Nat Borchers on Saturday.