RSL DISAPPOINTED WITH 1-1 DRAW AGAINST PORTLAND, BUT STILL GAINS WEST’S #3 SEED
RSL FW Álvaro Saborío’s Chip to End First Half Countered by Portland DF Futty Danso’s Equalizer in Second Half Stoppage Time;
RSL to Face off against Seattle Sounders FC in Western Conference Semifinal Series, Beginning Next Saturday in Sandy
SANDY, Utah (Saturday, October 22, 2011) – It appeared as if Real Salt Lake would end the regular season on a winning note, but a goal by Portland Timbers defender Futty Danso in second half stoppage time would force RSL to settle for a share of the spoils after a 1-1 draw played in front of a sellout crowd of 20,378 fans at Rio Tinto Stadium. Danso’s late equalizer cancelled out a clever goal from RSL striker Alvaro Saborio at the end of the first half, giving RSL a reward for a sparkling first 45 minutes out of the gates.
Thankfully for Real Salt Lake, the last-gasp loss of points will not come back to haunt the club, as tonight’s point when combined with FC Dallas’ 4-2 defeat at San Jose allowed the Utah side to claim the Western Conference’s third seed for the upcoming 2011 MLS Cup Playoffs. That means RSL will move directly into a Western Conference Semifinal Series against second-seeded Seattle Sounders FC, which will open with Leg One next Saturday, October 29 at Rio Tinto Stadium (tickets now available online) and be followed by the second leg at CenturyLink Field in Seattle on Wednesday, Nov. 2.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes
- Despite having six attempts to eclipse its single-season record of 15 wins, Real Salt Lake will have to settle for equaling last year’s record-setting victory count.
- With his goal, FW Álvaro Saborío claimed Real Salt Lake’s Golden Boot crown as the squad’s scoring leading for the second straight year, his 11th goal of the regular season beating out the man who played helper on the tally, FW Fabian Espíndola, by one goal. The Costa Rican international becomes the first player in RSL history with back-to-back Golden Boots (won last year’s with 12 regular season tallies) and the second player to collect multiple scoring titles for RSL (Robbie Findley in 2007 & 2009).
- Tonight marked the return to the line-up for MF Will Johnson, who missed last weekend’s scoreless draw in Colorado after suffering a right ankle sprain while serving on national team duty for Canada on Oct. 7. Unable to give it a go were two players progressing from left adductor strains in the last month, MF Ned Grabavoy and DF Tony Beltran. Both were involved in training sessions this past week and could be in line to return to the field when the playoffs begin for the Claret-and-Cobalt next weekend.
- Tonight also marked the final game in captain Kyle Beckerman’s suspension levied by the Major League Soccer Disciplinary Committee following RSL’s contest against Chicago back on Sept. 28. The midfielder and U.S. international will once again be available for selection for RSL’s playoff opener next Saturday against Seattle.
- Tonight’s crowd of 20,378 marked the third consecutive sellout at Rio Tinto Stadium as RSL prepares to enter the MLS Cup Playoffs. The full house was the seventh for RSL during the 2011 campaign (six in MLS play, one in CONCACAF Champions League).
POST-GAME QUOTE SHEET
REAL SALT LAKE 1 : 1 PORTLAND TIMBERS
REAL SALT LAKE HEAD COACH JASON KREIS
On RSL’s fast start in the contest:
“I think the whole team was really ready to go tonight. They took our direction this week on board, which we appreciate. We wanted a really bright start, we wanted to get after them right from the get-go, and I think we did.
“Having said that, I looked up at the clock after the first 15-20 minutes and thought ‘I wish we had a goal for all this hard work that we’ve done.’ Sometimes you need to reward yourself to feel that all the work you put into it was worth it, and if we had had one at that time I think things would have gotten a bit easier for us.”
On RSL’s up-and-down regular season:
“We’ve had a lot of stretches where we’ve had some positive things happen and we’ve had a lot of stretches where it seems we couldn’t buy a result. We’ve been more consistent for longer periods of time – it hasn’t been one week to the next – but there is just a ton of difficulties we’ve faced this year. I’m hoping all of this means something come playoff time.”
On the effect of the Rio Tinto Stadium crowd:
“I truly, truly believe that we rely on our crowd. It’s a huge emotional lift for us when they’re here early, when they’re loud, when they’re supportive as they were tonight, again. And we know our (playoff) opponent has a pretty decent crowd if it’s going to be Seattle, so we need every edge we can get.”
REAL SALT LAKE DEFENDER CHRIS WINGERT
On the play of RSL heading into the playoffs:
“We got to win one soon, eventually, so I guess the best time to do it is in the playoffs. For the most part, these past two weeks we’ve been playing our butts off. It’s a shame at the end we gave up that goal. It would have been better for morale had we won.”
On moving into postseason play:
“There were a lot of good things in that game and hopefully we can carry that into the playoffs. Whether we play Wednesday or Saturday, it’s going to be tough so we need to bring that same intensity.”
On what the team did well against the Timbers:
“What we did amazing was, when we did turn the ball over, we won it back right away. They would try to play out and our guys just swarmed and won the ball, and we were very dangerous because of that. I thought we did a great job with that, but you have to focus for 90 minutes not 89.”
REAL SALT LAKE GOALKEEPER NICK RIMANDO
On the 1-1 draw:
“We put in 90-plus minutes with great work and we turned off on one play and it cost us. We need to be mature enough to win this game and we should have won this game. The playoffs are right around the corner, and if this happens in the playoffs it will cost us.”
On the feeling in the locker room after the game:
“Right away it’s down. Whenever you give points away like that at home, in front of your fans on Fan Appreciation Night, people are going to be down, understandably. Tomorrow I think we’ll feel good about the performance and look at the tape and see all the good things we did and we’ll go on from there.”
On RSL’s regular season:
“It was up and down for sure, with injuries and call-ups. We had our great streak, our worst streak, and I think right now we are almost where we want to be. We’re getting some great players back just in time for the playoffs and all these streaks go away once you start the playoffs.”
REAL SALT LAKE FORWARD FABIAN ESPINDOLA
On giving up the late equalizer:
“I think it was our game, and we did well. It was just one ball, one mistake, and we lose two points that were very important. It can’t happen again.”
On the team’s good play early:
“It doesn’t matter in the end when you fail like that. If that happens in the playoffs, we’re out.”
PORTLAND TIMBERS HEAD COACH JOHN SPENCER
On whether or not the game was important to his club:
“I disagree about there being nothing to play for. I think you have to play for a lot of pride. The playoffs have passed us now but our fans, as you’ve seen tonight, traveled in the hundreds again to support us. So there’s something to play for. When people are paying to watch and paying for season tickets, I think you have to come prepared and ready to play and I felt very very unlucky to not win the game tonight. We came to one of the most difficult places in the league and were able to play for long periods of time.”
On the club’s expectations of players and the coaching staff:
“They had to play that way because I demanded before the game that they play that way. I never take the foot off the gas, that’s what I’m like as an individual, and I’ve always been like that. You’ve got to place the demands on your team to play that way and we’ve never done anything different. We still did our video analysis before the game. If you don’t play that way, the way the coaching staff demands and the way the owner wants the team to fight every game, then you’re not going to be here for very long. I’m not going to be here (very long) if I let them do that.”
On coming back in the second half:
“We could have sat back and just felt bad for ourselves and thought ‘Here we go again, we’re going to lose another game on the road,’ but they didn’t. They kept on going and they kept on going. Credit to them; I think that everybody that’s connected to the club tonight has got to be proud of that performance.”
On Portland’s supporters groups and the effect they have on the team:
“Our fans are, by far, the best in the league. That’s why we can’t have nights off. Yeah, we don’t play well every night – no team does in the league, regardless of how good you are – but you’ve got to be able to fight every single week. I think we showed tonight that we have that resilience. It gives me great pleasure to think what could happen in the future with this group.”
PORTLAND TIMBERS DEFENDER FUTTY DANSO
On scoring the 91st minute equalizer:
“We just threw bodies forward and luckily I was there when the cross came in.”
PORTLAND TIMBERS MIDFIELDER JACK JEWSBURY
On the young Portland team fighting back to earn a late tie:
“I think it says a lot about the class of this locker room. We’ve got a group of guys that has fought no matter what the circumstances are. Obviously, we could have said ‘season’s over’ and not given the same amount of effort as we have all year. I thought we played really well tonight.”
On the Timbers’ first MLS season and the future of the club:
“The reality of it is that you are an expansion team and, for pretty much every guy in this locker room, it’s their first year to play together. Getting quality games, getting games where there’s a lot of pressure on you, I think is key in terms of building to the future. That’s hard to say because this year we had the goal of making the playoffs and we fell just a bit short, but I think that we’re proud of where we’ve come.
“Coach said at the end of the game that earlier on in the season, if we’d gone down 1-0 at halftime, maybe something like Colorado in the first game happens, whereas now we fight back and we continue to play our style and get ourselves back in the game. I think we’re excited about where this team is going. We’ve got some unbelievable young talent on this squad, as you’ve seen. I don’t think some of them even know how good they are. When that comes to fruition it will be exciting to see.”
On the support from the Portland fans who travel to every game
“It’s been unbelievable all year and it’s not just when we’re at home. Every road game they’re always there and we know exactly where they are and after the game we make sure we go over and give them a little clap because they’ve meant so much to us this year with our home record. They’ve spurred us on and kept us going.”