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RSL haunted by Rusnak penalty miss, lose 2-1 to Portland

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It was an immensely winnable match that was undone by a poor penalty.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake collapsed into a 2-1 loss against Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium after a missed penalty and a directionless final third of the match.

A 25th-minute penalty for a handball, called late on video review, gave RSL an opportunity to open the match strongly.

Instead, Albert Rusnak hit the ensuing penalty low and to his left, but it was sent too slowly to be of any efficacy, and Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark parried the ball out for an RSL corner kick.

RSL conceded the opener in the 35th minute, with Portland’s Sebastian Blanco finishing past Andrew Putna following some poor defensive organization from the home side. There were some shouts of offside, but no confirmation was to be had.

Sam Johnson leveled the match with a low, trickling shot from near the penalty spot, finishing a heel-flicked assist from Corey Baird.

Diego Valero restored the Portland lead, curling a shot to the far post after a blocked shot in the box pinged off Justen Glad.

Throughout the second half, RSL struggled to finish several opportunies presented to them, but more generally regressed into a team desperate for long balls and direct play.

Albert Rusnak’s first-half penalty miss, at the conclusion of the 90 minutes, looms large.