SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (3-0-4, 13 points, West #3) picked up a valuable three points on Saturday night to remain unbeaten in 2014, getting a goal from MF Ned Grabavoy and a heroic performance from GK Nick Rimando to beat Portland Timbers (0-3-4, 4 points, West #8) 1-0 in front of a sold-out Rio Tinto Stadium.
Grabavoy scored his first goal of 2014 in the 78th minute to give RSL the lead, and Rimando made it stand with several huge late saves, extending RSL’s club record unbeaten start to seven games. Rimando – who missed RSL’s last two games due to a knee injury picked up while playing for the U.S. Men’s National Team in its 2-2 draw with Mexico on April 2 – now has 111 career regular season shutouts, just one shy of tying retired GK Kevin Hartman for the all-time MLS record.
Real Salt Lake controlled the game’s early stages, holding the majority of possession and putting Portland under some sustained pressure. Unfortunately, the Claret-and-Cobalt couldn’t piece any of that pressure into a clear-cut chance, and it was Portland that had the first look of the match.
Timbers FW Darlington Nagbe had the opportunity in the 19th minute, picking up a ball in the RSL third and slaloming into the area before firing a shot on goal from the top of the six-yard box. Rimando made a big save on the play, holding his ground at the left post and reacting quickly to punch Nagbe’s effort over the bar.
Real Salt Lake continued to stay on the front foot for the rest of the half, eventually registering its first chance in the 34th minute. RSL MF Javier Morales had the look, sending a dangerous free kick over the bar from the edge of the area after FW Olmes Garcia was fouled just outside the box.
RSL had a pair of chances in the 40th minute. MF Ned Grabavoy had the first look, heading a MF Luke Mulholland cross on frame that Portland GK Donovan Ricketts held comfortably. Garcia created the second, better chance, running onto a Mulholland chip on the right touchline and racing inside before cutting a pass back to FW Alvaro Saborio, who had his 10-yard effort in the right side of the box deflected over the bar by a Portland player.
Real Salt Lake had the first chance of the second half in the 57th minute, when Morales crossed to DF Chris Schuler at the left post, only for the big center back to sky his diving header over the bar.
RSL couldn’t sustain the pressure, however, with Portland nearly going ahead through FW Maximiliano Urruti on three different occasions in the 58th, 60th and 61st minutes. Urruti came closest on his first chance, getting free in the left side of the area and banging a 15-yard strike off the near post. He couldn’t quite take advantage of the next look, touching a difficult MF Diego Valeri chip wide of the left post from the penalty spot. Urruti squandered a golden chance in the 61st, stunningly missing the target on a 1-v-1 with Rimando after latching onto a turnover deep in RSL’s third.
Real Salt Lake Head Coach Jeff Cassar made a double substitution in the 67th minute, bringing MF Sebastian Velasquez on for Mulholland and FW Joao Plata on for Garcia. It was the first appearance for Plata since suffering a left hamstring strain in RSL’s 1-1 draw against LA Galaxy in the 2014 home opener on March 22.
RSL came agonizingly close to taking the lead in the 73rd minute, when Morales rolled a shot off the woodwork. DF Chris Wingert created the chance, weaving his way through the Portland defense on a rare run into the box before playing a square ball to Morales just inside the area. The Argentine playmaker freed himself up with a touch toward goal, then side-footed a 12-yard effort past Ricketts and off the right post.
Grabavoy gave RSL its long-awaited lead in the 78th minute. Velasquez started the play, cutting inside from his position on the right wing and finding Grabavoy with a square ball in the middle of Portland’s third. Grabavoy took it from there, dribbling into the area before firing a low left-footer inside the far post from 15 yards.
Desperate for a result, Portland frantically searched for an equalizer in the match’s final minutes. They would’ve found one in the 85th had it not been for the heroics of Rimando, who made a point-blank stop on substitute DF Alvas Powell to keep RSL ahead. Timbers MF Gaston Fernandez sprung Powell in the right side of the area, hitting the Jamaican international in stride just eight yards from goal. Powell put a shot on target with his first touch and Rimando stoned him, making a kick save to preserve RSL’s lead.
Rimando again preserved the three points with another great stop in the 88th minute. Fernandez pounced on a loose ball in the RSL third, taking a touch toward goal and curling a 20-yard left-footer toward the upper left corner. The ball looked ticketed for the back of the net, but Rimando – as he so often does – had other ideas, acrobatically leaping to his right to push the ball around the bar and out for a corner.
RSL will return to action next Saturday, when it will host Vancouver Whitecaps FC at 7:30 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. Tickets to next Saturday’s expected sell-out 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 1–0 POR
- Tonight’s attendance of 20,496 marks Real Salt Lake’s second sellout of the 2014 season. RSL opened its 2014 home schedule in front of a sold out Rio Tinto Stadium on March 22 against LA Galaxy.
- Real Salt Lake remains the only undefeated team in MLS, now posting a 3-0-4 record in its first seven matches. RSL also remains undefeated at home, recording a 2-0-1 record in Utah. In its two previous home matches, the Claret-and-Cobalt drew LA Galaxy 1-1 in its home opener and defeated Toronto FC 3-0 on March 29.
- Tonight’s match between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers was their first meeting of the 2014 MLS regular season. RSL continues its dominance over Portland, extending its unbeaten streak over the Pacific Northwest side to 11 games. RSL has not lost to the Cascadia side since their first-ever meeting in April 2011. RSL is now 8-1-3 against the Timbers across all competitions and posts a 5-1-3 all-time regular season record against the Timbers.
- RSL GK Nick Rimando was back in the RSL lineup tonight, starting for the first time in two weeks. Rimando missed the last two matches due to a knee injury suffered in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 2-2 draw with Mexico on April 2. His shutout tonight marks his 111th career clean sheet. Rimando is now one shutout away from tying retired GK Kevin Hartman’s all-time MLS mark of 112.
- RSL MF Ned Grabavoy proved to be the difference tonight, scoring the game’s only goal in the 79th minute. Tonight’s goal was his first of the 2014 season and second against Portland Timbers all-time. RSL has had a very diverse attack against Portland, with nine different players scoring against the Cascadia club in 2013 alone. RSL MF Sebastian Velasquez earned the assist, his first of 2014.
- With tonight’s start, RSL Captain Kyle Beckerman moved into a tie for 10th-place in MLS history with former teammate and current RSL Assistant Coach Andy Williams with 332 regular season games played. Beckerman is seventh in MLS history with 302 career regular season starts, two shy of tying retired MF Chris Henderson for sixth-place all-time. Beckerman also sits in seventh-place in MLS history with 27,183 regular season minutes played, 180 minutes behind current New England Revolution Head Coach Jay Heaps.
- RSL FW Joao Plata made a return to the gameday roster tonight. Plata had missed RSL’s last three matches after suffering a hamstring injury in RSL’s home opener against LA Galaxy on March 22. Plata performed extremely well in RSL’s first three matches, registering two goals and two assists to start the season.
- RSL MF Luis Gil made a return the 18 tonight after missing last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union due to a hamstring injury. In his place, MF Luke Mulholland earned his third start for the Claret-and-Cobalt. The Englishman has two goals from his previous starts – one in RSL’s 2-2 draw with Philadelphia Union and one in its 3-3 draw at San Jose Earthquakes.
- RSL MF Jordan Allen and FW Benji Lopez are currently with the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team, playing in the Dallas Cup tournament and were not available for today’s match. The U.S. U-20 squad will play in the Dallas Cup’s Gordon Jago Super Group Final tomorrow afternoon against Argentine side River Plate at 5:00 p.m. MT.
REAL SALT LAKE 1–0 PORTLAND TIMBERS
SATURDAY, APRIL 19, 2014
RIO TINTO STADIUM
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
Portland Timbers 0 0 0
RSL – Ned Grabavoy (Sebastian Velasquez) – 79’
POR – Mamadou Danso (Yellow; Foul) – 33’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman (C), Luke Mulholland (Sebastian Velasquez, 67’), Ned Grabavoy, Javier Morales; Alvaro Saborio (Devon Sandoval, 93’), Olmes Garcia (Joao Plata, 67’)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella (GK), Aaron Maund, Abdoulie Mansally, Luis Gil
Portland Timbers (4-3-3): Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury (Alvas Powell, 84’), Mamadou Danso, Pa Modou Kah, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri (Gaston Fernandez, 61’); Kalif Alhassan (Michael Nanchoff, 77’), Maximiliano Urruti, Darlington Nagbe
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber (GK, Jorge Villafana, Norberto Paparatto, Ben Zemanski
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Weather: Clear and 65 degrees