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RSL Gets Pounced By Portland In Important Match At Home

Real Salt Lake midfielder Kyle Beckerman (5) gets knocked down by Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara (21) during the Portland Timbers versus Real Salt Lake soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

SANDY, Utah – RSL couldn’t overcome the late barrage of goals from the Portland Timbers as they were defeated at Rio Tinto Stadium 4-1, in one of the most critical matches of the season.

Real Salt Lake couldn’t find the back of the net in the opening half, but Portland gained the goal advantage. Just 34 minutes into the match, the Timbers scored as forward Sebastian Blanco found fellow striker Jeremy Ebobisse.

Real Salt Lake forward Jefferson Savarino (7) fires a twisting shot on goal during the Portland Timbers versus Real Salt Lake soccer match at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy on Saturday, Oct. 6, 2018.
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

Second Half Collapse

RSL scored the equalizer in the 55th minute off the foot of forward Jefferson Savarino who was gifted the ball by Joao Plata to level the match at one goal apiece.

An 18 minute span late in the match was the dagger. Portland scored the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute and again in the 73rd minute, both by Blanco, who ended the game with two goals and one assist.

The nightmare ended for RSL when forward Lucas Melano scored the Timbers fourth goal in the 88th minute off of a misplayed throw-in.

Real Salt Lake head coach Mike Petke takes the responsibility for the ending of the match at home.

“Tonight is on me, I got the tactics wrong. Thought we had a good game plan going in which we didn’t, Petke added. “Now it is going to be an interesting last two games to see what we’re made of. What did I see in the last 20 minutes? We lost. We had energy for a bit when we equalized, a bit right after and then let it slip away,” he said.

Home Streak Snapped

Entering the Saturday night clash in Sandy, RSL had only suffered one loss in front of their fans. The lone loss was the home opener against LAFC on March 10, Portland snapped their 14-match unbeaten streak at home.

Real Salt Lake midfielder and Captain Kyle Beckerman wasn’t pleased with the result.

“They made some plays. Two plays by Blanco were high quality plays and it turned the game on its head,” he said.

Two Midfielders Suspended

During the match, Beckerman and Sunny Stephen received yellow cards in the 58th and 66th minute, respectively. Both will be suspended for the next match for yellow card accumulation.

Beckerman was asked about missing the next match on October 18.

“It’s always hard not being out there late in the season. We’ll work our tails off during practice and prepare every way that we can and get the guys ready,” he said. “Hopefully we have a good performance and give ourselves a good chance in the last game,” Beckerman added.

Push For Playoff Position

Despite the loss, RSL remains in the sixth and final spot in the Western Conference. With two matches remaining, they find themselves one point ahead of the LA Galaxy and four points behind the Timbers.

Petke discussed the playoff position after the match against Portland.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now. From me, the coaching staff and straight down to the players,” said Petke. “It’s going to be two very tough games. Paired with our last two games being 3 days apart for some reason. It’s going to be an interesting game,” he added.

Beckerman weighed in on the tight playoff race.

“The good thing is that we’ve responded really well after losses this year. If we can do that again then we can keep marching forward,” he said. “It’s going to be tough and other teams are fighting forward and we’re just going to get back to work to see what we can do better then go out next week and see if we can get a win,” Beckerman added.

Real Salt Lake will be off until Thursday, October 18, due to the international FIFA break. They will face the New England Revolution in the last home match of the regular season at Rio Tinto Stadium.