PORTLAND – Real Salt Lake (12-8-6, 42 points, West #1) picked up an important road point on Wednesday night, overcoming a second half red card and getting a 93rd minute goal from MF Cole Grossman to tie the Portland Timbers (9-3-12, 39 points, West #3) 3-3 at JELD-WEN Field.
RSL – which was playing without Captain Kyle Beckerman (yellow card accumulation), GK Nick Rimando (stomach virus) and leading-scorer Alvaro Saborio (calf strain) – fell behind early, going down 1-0 in the 24th minute when Portland FW Rodney Wallace put the Timbers on top. The Claret-and-Cobalt fought back with goals from DF Nat Borchers in the 38th and MF Javier Morales in the 43rd to take a 2-1 lead into the half. RSL couldn’t hold its advantage, however, conceding the equalizer in the 57th, losing MF Yordany Alvarez to a straight red card in the 78th and falling behind 3-2 in the 86th. The Utah side looked dead in the water, but Grossman’s late equalizer salvaged a point and kept the Claret-and-Cobalt atop the MLS and Western Conference tables heading into the weekend.
Portland started the match on the front foot, nearly going ahead in the fourth minute when MF Diego Valeri bounced a shot off the post. Valeri collected a loose ball in the right side of the box, hitting a 12-yard effort past RSL GK Jeff Attinella and off the left post.
Wallace put the Timbers on top in the 24th minute. Valeri curled a free kick in from the left side, picking out Wallace for a headed finish from just inside the penalty spot.
RSL had a decent look at an equalizer in the 26th. Morales swung a set piece in from the right flank, just missing the head of an open Borchers and finding the outstretched foot of FW Robbie Findley, who toe-poked a shot on frame that was held by Portland GK Donovan Ricketts.
Borchers put Real Salt Lake on the board in the 38th. Morales made the play, winning the ball from Valeri in the right corner and lofting a cross into the middle. Alvarez got on the end of the ball, heading a six-yard shot that Ricketts couldn’t hold. The rebound fell perfectly to Borchers, who tapped in from the right side of the six-yard box for his first goal of 2013.
Morales earned RSL a penalty kick four minutes later. MF Khari Stephenson nailed a big drive from distance that bounced off of Ricketts and all the way out to the top of the box. Morales collected the rebound, taking a touch before getting pulled down by Portland DF Andrew Jean-Baptiste to earn the spot kick. The Argentine maestro made no mistake with the ensuing penalty, taking a stutter-step before slotting home into the left side to give RSL the 2-1 lead.
Attinella came up with a big save in the 50th minute to keep RSL ahead. Valeri was again at the center of the opportunity, swerving a free kick in from the left side to unmarked FW Ryan Johnson at the back post. Attinella came up big on the Jamaican international’s free header, positioning himself smartly to deny the point blank chance.
Referee Ricardo Salazar whistled RSL for a penalty kick in the 56th. DF Brandon McDonald was unluckily whistled for a hand ball in the top of the box, giving Portland its own spot kick. Valeri stepped up to take it, burying his chance with a cool finish to the right side to knot the game 2-2 in the 57th minute.
RSL went down to 10-men in the 79th minute, when Alvarez was shown a straight red card for a tackle on Portland MF Diego Chara. RSL Head Coach Jason Kreis inserted Grossman for FW Joao Plata immediately after Alvarez’s ejection.
The Timbers didn’t take long to score on 10-man RSL, going ahead 3-2 through substitute FW Kalif Alhassan in the 86th minute. RSL failed to properly deal with a cross into the area and Alhassan pounced, running onto the loose ball in the right side of the box before slamming a 15-yard shot inside the far post with his first touch.
Things looked bleak for RSL until Grossman – who was making his first appearance since suffering a concussion at FC Dallas on March 23 – improbably knocked home the equalizer well into second half stoppage time. DF Tony Beltran started the play, digging a ball out of the right corner and crossing into the middle. The ball bounced around in the box before eventually falling to Grossman, who hit a low left-footer off the turf and inside the near post from 10 yards out in the right side of the area to knot the game at 3-3.
Real Salt Lake will return to action this Saturday, when it will host the Columbus Crew at 7:30 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets to Saturday’s match can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 3-3 POR
- RSL DF Nat Borchers and RSL MF Cole Grossman became the 13th and 14th Claret-and-Cobalt players in MLS play – and 15th and 16th in all competitions – to score a goal for the Utah side in 2013. Only 10 players scored for RSL in MLS, U.S. Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League play in 2012.
- Wednesday’s match was RSL MF Cole Grossman’s first game with the first-team since he suffered a concussion in RSL’s 2-0 loss at FC Dallas on March 23. It was just his second-ever first-team appearance with RSL since joining the Claret-and-Cobalt last offseason. His 93rd minute equalizer was his first goal in a RSL uniform and second in his MLS career, which is now in its third season.
- RSL was without three of its top players on Wednesday night in Captain Kyle Beckerman (yellow card accumulation), GK Nick Rimando (stomach virus) and leading-scorer Alvaro Saborio (calf strain).
- Wednesday’s game was the second of three in a span of 24 days between RSL and Portland. RSL is 1-0-1 in the first two matchups against the Cascadia club, beating the Timbers in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal on Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium before tying them in Oregon on Wednesday night. The Claret-and-Cobalt will play Portland again next Friday, Aug. 30, hosting the Timbers at 8:00 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium in a match that will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. RSL will travel to the Timbers for the final regular season game between the sides on Oct. 19.
- Wednesday’s result moves RSL 6-14-12 in all competitions when playing on an artificial surface. The Claret-and-Cobalt will play on turf three more times this regular season, taking on Seattle Sounders FC at CenturyLink Field on Sept. 13, traveling north of the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC at BC Place on Sept. 28 and returning to Portland to take on the Timbers at JELD-WEN Field on Oct. 19.
- Along with keeping the team in first-place in both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races, Wednesday’s result gives RSL a 5-6-3 road record this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt now has 25 road goals this season; no other team has that many away goals and only one other team in the league – Vancouver, with 25 – has that many goals at home. RSL’s +2 road goal differential is also tops in the league.
REAL SALT LAKE 3–3 PORTLAND TIMBERS
WEDNESDAY, AUG. 21, 2013
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 2 1 3
Portland Timbers 1 2 3
POR – Rodney Wallace (Diego Valeri) – 24’
RSL – Nat Borchers – 38’
RSL – Javier Morales (Penalty Kick) – 43’
POR – Diego Valeri (Penalty Kick) – 57’
POR – Kalif Alhassan – 86’
RSL – Cole Grossman – 93’
POR – Diego Chara (Yellow; Foul) – 46’
RSL – Javier Morales (Yellow; Dissent) – 56’
RSL – Yordany Alvarez (Red; Foul) – 79’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Jeff Attinella; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Brandon McDonald, Chris Wingert; Yordany Alvarez; Ned Grabavoy, Khari Stephenson (Luis Gil, 62’); Javier Morales (C); Joao Plata (Cole Grossman, 82’), Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia, 75’)
Substitutes not used: Lalo Fernandez (GK), Lovel Palmer, Abdoulie Mansally, Devon Sandoval
Portland Timbers (4-3-3): Donovan Ricketts (C); Alvas Powell, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Diego Valeri (Ryan Miller, 88’), Ben Zemanski; Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan, 78’), Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia, 63’), Rodney Wallace
Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic (GK), Rauwshan McKenzie, Sal Zizzo, Steven Evans
Referee: Ricardo Salazar
Assistant Referees: Ian Anderson, Jeremy Hanson
4th Official: Jesus Cisneros