Real Salt Lake nearly salvaged a point after being down 2-0 and then 3-1, but they couldn’t find the back of the net late in the game to grab the equalizer as the Timbers won 3-2. Toni Datkovic made his debut tonight in an RSL uniform next to Justen Glad in central defense.
Things started off badly for RSL when Datkovic was called for a handball in the box less than 10 minutes in. After a video review, the referee pointed to the spot for a Portland penalty. Dairon Asprilla stepped up to the ball and sent it in to Zac MacMath’s left, but it went sailing just past his outstretched hand and into the net to put the Timbers up 1-0 early on.
The Timbers doubled their lead just before the 30 minute mark after some fantastic team build up play. Yimmi Chara received a slick back heel into space and let a shot sail from just outside the 18. MacMath couldn’t do much about it as it flew into the back of the net and Portland took a 2-0 lead.
RSL responded well, getting more good looks at goal through the next 10 minutes. The breakthrough finally came in the 40th minute after a little move behind the defense from Jony Menendez. He slid the ball back to Albert Rusnak who sent a left-footed shot in that rolled past Ivacic, pulling one back for RSL just before half time.
On paper, RSL dominated the first half as they controlled 63 percent of possession while outshooting the Timbers 12-3 overall. Portland’s only two shots on goal went in, but RSL had plenty of good play going forward as well and created plenty of chances, logging six shots on goal in the first 45.
Portland grabbed a third goal in the second half off a beautiful long ball in from Sebastian Blacon, finding Felipe Mora streaking behind RSL’s defense. He touched the ball and spun around hitting it in on the volley straight past MacMath, putting the Timbers up 3-1 in the 62nd minute.
Damir Kreilach gave the visitors renewed hope in the 79th minute when Pablo Ruiz sent a perfect ball over the top. Kreilach hit it straight up the middle and over Ivacic’s head, bringing RSL within one goal and just over 10 minutes to play.
Though Salt Lake had a flurry of chances, none of them went in the net as the Timbers survived the final minutes of the game to take all three points. RSL outshot the home side 23-13 overall, with 9-3 on frame. The win puts Portland ahead in the table as RSL falls to eighth place in the Western Conference.