Real Salt Lake never looked ready for Portland Timbers.
From the opening moments of the first half to the final whistle, RSL looked disorganized and unable to cope with even slight pressure from the opposition.
The sole bright spot came from one of RSL’s bright spots of the season: Jefferson Savarino, who always has a bit of the spectacular in him.
Diego Chara incited the first real incident of the night after elbow Albert Rusnak in the face, an act for which he received one solitary yellow card.
The first half saw RSL create a few good chances, but the magnitude of the match won out,
The 31st minute saw Portland’s first excellent chance, but a low cross along the face of goal ended with a fortunate RSL throw-in. RSL’s fortune didn’t stick around for long, though.
The 34th minute saw things turn sour, when Portland forward Jeremy Ebobisse smacked a ball into the back of the net past Nick Rimando. That 1-0 deficit was perhaps deserved.
Jefferson Savarino nearly put things right minutes later after some trademark tricky work in the box, but he flung his shot far too high to be of any danger. Near the end of the first half, he spectacularly brought down a lobbed pass inside the box, but nothing came of his one-on-one with Steve Clark.
The second half nearly introduced a greater deficit, with Nick Rimando having to come up in a massive way to prevent another Portland goal.
Joao Plata, from the edge of the box, nearly notched an equalizer with a curling shot, but Steve Clark was equal to the task. That corner came with a bit of controversy, with David Guzman falling the ground before Plata’s shot and staying there for a good portion. It didn’t end in anything, and because medical attention was issued to the player with no yellow card, he was forced — much to his dismay, as you might expect.
It was the play following that incident that really lit things on fire. With Guzman still off the field and pleading with a referee to let him back on, Jefferson Savarino rounded two Portland players into an open area in the box before unleashing a far-post shot that rippled the side netting. 1-1, and RSL had everything to play for again, with the crowd again at their back.
From there, Portland enrolled in an operation of time-wasting — as if the crowd needed fuel, really — and RSL pressed further and further up the field. If it lit a fire in Real Salt Lake, it was the wrong one, with Portland going up 2-1 in the 70th minute from a Sebastian Blanco goal. RSL, again, was caught defensively unaware, with simple mistakes in the box largely their downfall.
The 72nd minute — remember, that go-ahead goal came in the 70th minute — brought more of the same. Sebastian Blanco, again, from the same angle, in the same position, put Portland ahead 3-1. It was almost as if the timewasting was little more than a ruse to lure RSL into a state of perpetual awfulness. If that is it, it worked.
3-1 down. It’s hardly the sort of thing RSL will have needed from this game, especially with Sporting Kansas City providing just a tiny bit of help with a 1-1 draw. And it got worse! With everything to play for, Nick Besler took a throw-in straight back to Nick Rimando, who was marked by Lucas Melano. It very quickly turned into a goal for the out-of-sorts attacker in your last bit of evidence that MLS is just the worst.
It could have been five, too, but Nick Rimando took matters into his own hands, clearing out Diego Valeri to snatch a ball along the ground. Valeri got up with no issue and earned himself a yellow card for being overly demonstrative with the referee.
Real Salt Lake
Lennon, Besler, Glad, Herrera (Saucedo, 80’)
Savarino, Rusnák, Plata
Baird (Sunny, 63’)
Bench: Putna, Onuoha, Barry, Sunny, Luis Silva, Mulholland, Saucedo
Valentin, Mabiala, Guzmán, Villafaña
Polo, Tuiloma (Cascante, 68’), Chara
Ebobisse (Melano, 78’), Blanco
Bench: McIntosh, Cascante, Flores, Parades, Melano, Asprilla