Timbers rally, but can’t hold lead and fall 3-2 to Real Salt Lake on two late goals
It was a wild night at Portland’s JELD-WEN Field, as the rain came and went, and the lead would actually change hand three times, but the Timbers gave up two very late goals to turn a 2-1 win into a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake in front of another sold out crowd of 20,438. Darlington Nagbe scored both Timbers goals, while Alvaro Saborio, Johnny Steele, and Kyle Berman scored for the visitors.
It was the Timbers who would have the first good opportunity, as Jorge Perlaza slipped on off a pass from Rodney Wallace, but Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando was able to smother the scoring chance. Neither team would threaten again until the 13th minute, when Portland’s Diego Chara seemed to have a great chance for a 1-on-1 with the Real Salt Lake goalkeeper, but his first touch failed him and the ball was easily collected by Rimando. Less than a minute later, it was the visitors threatening, as Chris Wingert had a nice low shot from his run down the left side, but Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins went down low to stop the shot. Two minutes later the visitors had another good chance when Ned Grabavoy’s low shot was tipped past the post by Perkins.
In the 18th minute, the Timbers players and fans were incensed when a seemingly minor foul by a Real Salt Lake player was followed by Portland’s Darlington Nagbe slipping in all alone behind the Salt Lake defense. But well after the Timbers midfielder was in behind the defense, center referee Jorge Gonzalez called the play back, denying the Timbers advantage.
One minuter later, the Timbers had a chance for a quick recovery from that disappointment when Chara attempted to toe a pass to an open Kris Boyd near the Salt Lake goal, but the pass was just wide. Two minutes later, the Timbers were on the attack again when Eric Alexander made a run right through the Salt Lake defense, but his shot from 20 yards out was pushed over the crossbar by Rimando.
In the 29th minute, it was the visitors threatening, as Tony Beltran made a nice cross attempt from the right side, with Perkins barely getting to the shot to punch it wide. Three minutes later, the Timbers looked ready to take the lead when Chara played a nice ball through to Perlaza, and the Timbers forward was able to tap the ball around Rimando, and had a brief look at the open net, but slid the shot wide right from a tight angle.
In the 38th minute, Real Salt Lake would be awarded a penalty kick after a through ball bounced up and caught Wallace on the arm inside the penalty box. Though it was not considered intentional as Wallace was not carded, Alvaro Saborio stepped up to take the spot kick, and sent Perkins the wrong way, and the visitors had a 1-0 lead, the fourth time in four games that the Timbers have allowed the first goal.
The Timbers nearly responded a minute later when Boyd dropped a nice pass to Perlaza, but the Timbers striker volleyed the shot just past the right post. Alexander did have one more good chance for the Timbers just before the half, but Rimando stopped the shot easily, and at the half, Real Salt Lake had the 1-0 lead.
The second half would get off to a wild start, and less than three minutes into the half, the Timbers would level the score when Nagbe made a nice run to the top of the Real Salt Lake box, and his low blast to the lower left corner was past Rimando and into the net, and the score was level at 1-1. In the 51st minute, Salt Lake’s Javier Morales had a good chance on a chipped shot, but Perkins was able to recover to make the easy save. Two minutes later the visitors came even closer to retaking the lead when Saborio’s low shot rattled off the left post, before the rebound was cleared over the line for a goal kick.
In the 57th minute, Alexander used his speed to give the Timbers two great chances, as he beat a Real Salt Lake defender to get possession of the ball near the endline, then tip-toed the endling as he moved towards goal, then dropped a pass to Wallace whose shot was stopped by a Salt Lake defender, then a second rebound shot by Nagbe was blocked by Rimando.
In the 65th minute, Timbers fans would get to see another moment of brilliance from Nagbe, with a touch that brought back memories of his MLS Goal of the Year last year against Kansas City, the Timbers midfielder had a brilliant first touch on a pass from Alexander, then his volleyed shot over Rimando from near the edge of the box dipped just under the crossbar, and the Timbers had surged to the 2-1 lead.
In the 75th minute, the visitors had a great chance to level the score again when Grabavoy was in alone on Perkins, but his attempt to curl the shot past a charging Perkins was wide right. Six minutes later, it would be the Timbers with a good chance of adding to their lead, when Eric Brunner’s header off a Jack Jewsbury corner kick was kept out by a nice reaction save from Rimando.
Timbers fans were ready to celebrate another come from behind victory as the match went into the final few minutes, but it was not to be, and the collapse began in the 89th minute when Johnny Steele slipped through the Timbers defense, and put a low shot just inside the far post past a diving Perkins, and as the match entered stoppage time, the score was now level 2-2.
But the late collapse was not over, when three minutes into stoppage time, Fabian Espindola found Kyle Beckerman near the top of the Timbers box, and he fought off the Timbers defense to one-time a shot just inside the left post, and in a matter of a few minutes, a 2-1 lead had become a 3-2 deficit, and seconds later the center whistle would blow, as the Timbers had another of their now well-known late match collapses, resulting in a 3-2 loss to Real Salt Lake.
Nick Rimando had six saves in the winning effort, while Troy Perkins had five saves for the Timbers.