Real Salt Lake Dismantled In Biggest Regular Season Game Of Season

Nov 3, 2021, 10:34 PM | Updated: 10:55 pm

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake...

Photo courtesy: Real Salt Lake

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake suffered an agonizing 3-1 defeat at Rio Tinto Stadium to the Portland Timbers, the loss casts serious doubt on any playoff appearance.

“If you lose the ball in bad spots you put yourself in bad positions and they [Portland] are ruthless on the counter, we knew that.” interim manager Pablo Mastroeni said following the conclusion of the game.

Interim manager Pablo Mastroeni began the fixture staying strong to his 3-5-2 formation. No big moves were made pre-game by Mastroeni, the only substantial difference from the 4-3 loss against San Jose was that Everton Luiz took the place of Nick Besler in the heart of the park.

The club celebrated former captain Kyle Beckerman by renaming section five in the southeast corner of the stadium “Beckerman’s Block.” Beckerman signed autographs and took photos with fans prior to the game before addressing the crowd at midfield minutes before the opening whistle.

“From the bottom of my heart I say thank you, thank you, thank you,” Beckerman professed to the 18,405 in attendance.

Dismal Display

The opening 15 minutes were played on Real Salt Lake’s terms as they dominated time of possession and offensive chances. However, as has often been the case this season, Real Salt Lake struggled to put any of their opportunities away.

Following a solid opening quarter of an hour, the game took a turn for the worst when Aaron Herrera turned the ball over in an uncharacteristic fashion to concede a corner kick. On the ensuing corner, Portland scored when Sebastián Blanco headered the ball home on the back post. Maikel Chang was responsible for Blanco but seemed to have fallen asleep.

Real Salt Lake was never able to respond from conceding the opening goal of the game. The attacking opportunities dried up and then it went from bad to worse.

In the 38th minute, Blanco was streaking down the right-flank while Justen Glad was defending him. Two cuts and Blanco has opened enough space to whip in a ball across the face of the goal. Sadly, Herrera was the first to make contact with the ball and his attempted clearance ended up in the back of the net.

Another mistake cost Real Salt Lake in the stroke of halftime when Pablo Ruiz turned the ball over just inside his own half. A group of Timbers players pounced on the opportunity to counter-attack and that they did. Real Salt Lake found themselves down 3-0 in the first half when Blanco scored his brace in clinical fashion.

Real Salt Lake Dismantles

The second half offered very little.

Portland dropped deeper and deeper and forced Real Salt Lake to play around them and they could not muster much.

Real Salt Lake made mistakes that they had not made this season. Almost every player on the pitch found it difficult to control and possess the football. It was ugly. Literally, players were receiving a simple pass and found it difficult to control the ball.

Mastroeni went to his bench and brought on Bobby Wood, Jonathan Menéndez, Justin Meram, and Anderson Julio. But the moves had very little impact on the outcome.

The game was over at halftime.

In the 85th minute Meram put in a delivery that found the head of Bobby Wood, but his shot ricocheted off a Portland defender and Real Salt Lake was rewarded a penalty.

“It is frustrating. I feel like a broken record but it is the same thing over and over again,” Rusnák said following the loss.

Rusnák stepped up and buried it off the woodwork and into the back of the net.

Real Salt Lake had life, but very little of it.

It was one of the most deplorable performances from a team that entered the fixture with everything to play for. Regular season games come no bigger than this evening. If Real Salt Lake had won they would have qualified for the playoffs. With the loss, they must now pick up three points at Sporting Kansas City and rely on other results to go their way.

Their chances are slim.

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Real Salt Lake Dismantled In Biggest Regular Season Game Of Season