Real Salt Lake Lose To Portland Despite Controlling Majority Of Fixture

Aug 7, 2021, 10:46 PM

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Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake Twitter

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Despite having 23 shots, Real Salt Lake failed to beat Portland Timbers on the road to round out their three-game road trip.

Manager Freddy Juarez opted to give his Croatian left-footed center-back Toni Datković his debut. Exciting Argentinian winger Jonothan Menéndez another start on the left. Damir Kreilach and Rubio Rubin returned to the starting XI while Pablo Ruiz and Everton Luiz played in the heart of the midfield.

“I was really happy to start butt was not a good start from us,” Datković said immediately following the final whistle. “The referee was easy on the yellow cards to us so we needed to be calm. The good thing was that we were the better opponent and were not willing to surrender until the last minute, we deserved more.”

RSL Saw Yellow Early

The opening half an hour did not go in favor of RSL as the head referee gave Justen Glad and Menéndez yellow cards while also pointing to the spot after Datković was deemed to handle the ball inside the area.

The yellow card to Glad means he will be suspended for the next game at home against Austin due to yellow card accumulation. While the awarded penalty was the worst possible start for Datković’s RSL career.

Nonetheless, RSL quickly found themselves down a goal when Asprilla beat RSL goalkeeper Zac MacMath to his left and gave the home crowd an early reason to cheer in the 10th minute.

Shortly thereafter, Portland scored a second goal when Chará buried a beautiful shot into the top left-hand corner of the net after Asprilla laid the ball on a platter just on top of the area.

However, RSL settled and found composure on the football. The remainder of the half was played on RSL’s terms as they dominated the chances and were subsequently rewarded with a goal when captain Albert Rusnák beat Timbers goalkeeper Aljaž Ivačič at his near post to give the visitors life.

At halftime, RSL had 63 percent possession, 12 shots, and 6 corner kicks, Portland did not have a single corner kick in the first half.

“We started sloppy, they have three shots and two goals, we have 10 and one. We need to take risks in front of their goal instead of ours,” Rusnák told Samantha Yarrock entering the main interval.

Enter Sebastián Blanco

Portland made one change at halftime when they brought on left-winger Sebastián Blanco at halftime. Blanco was fast to make an impact when he picked the pocket of Herrera and looked to be in on goal before Herrera dragged him down, receiving RSL’s fourth yellow card of the game for his efforts.

Then, Blanco found the football once again on the left flank and picked out a spectacular run by Portland’s number nine Felipe Mora who took one touch and buried his shot past MacMath and into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

Damir Kreilach had a marvelous opportunity to pinch one back when he got on the end of a header but was denied by the right palm of Ivačič on the goalline.

In the 75th minute, Juarez made his first moves of the match when he brought on Bobby Wood for Everton Luiz and Noah Powder for Donny Toia. It was Powder’s second appearance for RSL this season.

Nail Biting Finish

Life was slightly restored in the 80th minute when Pablo Ruiz nestled a perfectly weighted ball onto the chest of Kreilach who hit the shot on the half volley over the head of Ivačič and into the top of the net.

Then, Portland manager Giovanni Savarese made his final substitution of the game when he introduced center-back Mabiala for Chará. Portland looked to shut up shop as they played the final 10 minutes with five across the backline.

Maikel Chang entered the fixture for Menéndez in the 87th minute and seconds after his return Chang was shown yellow for colliding with Blanco on the top of the Timbers area.

A late penalty shout for RSL went unnoticed following a potential handball in the area off an RSL corner kick.

Rubio Rubin had an opportunity to score in the 92nd minute when he was played in on goal but a miraculous slide tackle from Zac McGraw who entered the match only minutes earlier.

Then, Rusnák found space just inside the area and nearly beat Ivačič at his near post for the second time, but another big right palm by Ivačič denied the RSL captain of any heroics.

Unfortunately, it was not meant to be for RSL who suffered their second consecutive defeat of the week.

It was the first time this season that RSL has given up more than two goals in a match.

“Great effort from the guys. We were brave, we shot, we created chances, we had a ton of corners, maybe a hand-ball at the end there but we keep going,” Juarez said. “Really proud of the guys. We came into a tough environment and we attacked and played aggressively but came up just a little bit short.”

Next Match

RSL will have a week to rest and prepare for their next fixture which will occur at Rio Tinto Stadium against Austin on August 14th. The kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. and will be available to stream for free via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.


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Real Salt Lake Lose To Portland Despite Controlling Majority Of Fixture