Soccer: Real Salt Lake rallies behind Javier Morales
Sandy • Jamison Olave's face was twisted in indignant fury.
The Real Salt Lake defender, like many of his teammates, had had enough of Portland's persistent, chippy fouling of Javier Morales.
Since Morales' return from a brutal ankle injury last season, MLS teams have kicked and chipped at the midfielder's ankle and feet. Call Saturday night's incident the final straw.
Morales' temper finally flared after the Timbers' Diego Chara chopped him down in the 64th minute of Saturday's 3-0 victory by RSL.
"Sometimes teams are going to come in here and try to disrupt the way we play," said RSL's Chris Wingert, whose pass led to the second of Alvaro Saborio's three goals. "They put guys in their half and foul us, especially a guy like Javy who's our playmaker. We've got to make sure that that's not OK and the message gets across."
Chara and David Horst as well as RSL's Will Johnson received yellow cards. Fines or suspensions may come as Major League Soccer examines the footage. RSL's next game is Saturday at San Jose.
Real coach Jason Kreis attributed Portland's physical play to the score.
"Anytime you're beating somebody three to zero there's going to be some retribution, there's going to be some physical challenges," he said. "Also, to be honest, I'm pleased that we had a reaction that said enough's enough. Our guys came and they came for a purpose and that was to protect Javier."
Overall, the Timbers received four yellow cautions and a red card for Chara who blocked a potential RSL goal with his hand in the 74th minute.
Saborio buried the penalty kick.
"Hard tackles â¦ it's soccer, it's life," Portland's David Horst said. "It's going to happen, there's going to be hard tackles. I'm protecting my teammates; they're protecting their teammates. It's nothing personal with any of them. â¦ We're not going to sit back and let the other team kick us. We have to make our presence felt, and that's a trademark of both teams. Neither team is going to back down from the other."
Rimando No. 2 • Saturday's win was Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando's 131th in his MLS career, tying him with Zach Thornton for second place all-time in league history.
"It is cool to be second, hopefully I can be No. 1," Rimando said. "I didn't know about the record for yesterday. I guess playing all these years catches up with you. Hopefully I'll be No 1 someday."
FC Dallas' Kevin Hartman is the MLS career leader, with 174 wins.
• Real Salt Lake (11-6-3, 36 points) is off to its best start in team history, tied on points and one win ahead of the 2010 team.
• RSL midfielder Ned Grabavoy was replaced in the 24th minute of Saturday's match after suffering an apparent knee injury.
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