Real Salt Lake had the chances, but they didn’t have the finishing prowess as they fell 0-1 to Portland Timbers on the road.
The match was an ugly one, with possession ceded early and often from both sides, and with neither side seeming to want to finish the match with three points.
Diego Valeri opened the scoring for Portland in typical fashion after picking off a turnover inside Real Salt Lake’s half. The Argentine struck from outside the box to lift his team to a 1-0 lead with what can only be described as a fantastic goal.
The play typified the first half for RSL, who struggled in possession in crucial moments — but A double sub in the 78th minute saw Sam Johnson and Joao Plata enter the fray, replacing Corey Baird and Kelyn Rowe. It was the first significant tactical shift of the night for RSL coach Freddy Juarez, who arguably waited too long to make the first change of the match.
Nearly simultaneous to that was a bit of a scare for Nick Rimando, who suffered an unfortunate collision with Jeremy Ebobisse while making a save; the Portland forward attempted to pull his run, and Rimando was very low making his save. Rimando remained on the field.
It was hardly good enough from Real Salt Lake, who had a plethora of opportunities throughout the 90 minutes but struggled to finish plays.
A red card in stoppage time for Renzo Zambrano gave RSL just a bit of hope, with Nedum Onuoha taken down on the edge of the box. Some argument could be made that the foul was inside the box; regardless, it was a good opportunity for RSL. Albert Rusnak’s shot, as well-taken as it was, found Steve Clark, who rebounded the ball to the feet of Aaron Herrera. The right back’s shot — the last opportunity of the game — went flying over the bar in what will be an avoidable defeat for Real Salt Lake.