Real Salt Lake kept their playoff hopes alive with a big 2-1 win over the visiting Portland Timbers, which puts them above the red line for the time being, although most other teams have at least one game in hand.
Mike Petke went with the starting eleven you’d expect, which included both Luis and Marcelo Silva returning to the lineup, after Marcelo missed several matches due to a hamstring injury, and while Luis didnt start last game as an injury precaution.
RSL wasted virtually no time as Albert Rusnak opened the scoring in the 14th minute. After a few great chances from the home side in earlier minutes, Rusnak collected the ball off a Portland turnover, took it near the top of the 18 and let one rip from distance. Portland ‘keeper Jeff Attinella got a hand to it, but it wasn’t enough as it went sailing into the back of the net to put RSL up 1-0 early on.
RSL would continue to control the majority of the game, keeping Portland on their back foot, looking for the counter. Some fantastic passing and possession play, as well as some big saves from Attinella highlighted the first half.
The home side controlled 55% of possession in the first half, as well as the majority of the attacking play as they outshot Portland 12-6 overall.
The Timbers found an answer of their own straight away in the second half when Diego Valeri found the back of the net in the 47th minute. The ball found his head off a perfect cross and flew in past Rimando to tie the game up 1-1.
While Portland continued putting the pressure on in the second half, a beautiful cross from Albert Rusnak found its way to Jefferson Savarino, who blasted in a world class shot that went straight to the far post’s upper 90, rendering Attinella virtually useless and putting RSL back in the lead at 2-1 in the 61st minute.
Portland had a golden chance as they won a free kick right at the top of the 18 in the attacking third. Valeri sent a picture-perfect free kick sailing over the wall and straight toward the goal, but Nick Rimando, as he’s been known to do, sprang into action and made a save to keep his team in the lead in the 85th minute.
RSL weathered the storm brought on by Portland in the final minutes and held on for the 2-1 win, collecting a much-needed three points from their Western Conference foes.