Sandy • Everything must end, and on Saturday night at Rio Tinto, mortality scored a two-for-one.
Real Salt Lake lost both its unbeaten home mark and an 11-match unbeaten streak against Portland, with the Timbers scoring three straight and holding on comfortably when the home team dropped to 10 men.
Portland 3, RSL 1
Portland 2 1 — 3
Salt Lake 1 0 — 1
First half » 1, Real Salt Lake, Mulholland 4, 23rd minute. 2, Portland, Adi 3 (Valeri), 36th. 3, Portland, Adi 4, 45th.
Second half » 4, Portland, Johnson 4 (penalty kick), 73rd.
Goalies » Portland, Donovan Ricketts Real Salt Lake, Jeff Attinella.
Yellow Cards—Beltran, Real Salt Lake, 53rd Garcia, Real Salt Lake, 70th Mulholland, Real Salt Lake, 84th Chara, Portland, 90th+.
Red Cards—Beltran, Real Salt Lake, 54th.
Referee—Ismail Elfath. Assistant Referees—Kermit Quisenberry. Paul Scott. 4th Official—Daniel Radford.
Attendance » 20,481 (20,008)
Portland—Donovan Ricketts, Norberto Paparatto (Danny O’Rourke, 60th), Rauwshan McKenzie, Will Johnson, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Valeri, Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan, 88th), Jorge Villafana, Diego Chara, Gaston Fernandez (Steve Zakuani, 68th), Fanendo Adi.
Real Salt Lake—Jeff Attinella, Chris Wingert, Nat Borchers, Chris Schuler, Tony Beltran, Luke Mulholland, Luis Gil (Devon Sandoval, 77th), Ned Grabavoy (Cole Grossman, 63rd), Javier Morales, Joao Plata (Abdoulie Mansally, 58th), Olmes Garcia.
Still, RSL head coach Jeff Cassar said after the game that given that his team sits second in the standings while the league heads into a World Cup break, and given that they’ve suffered injuries, blown leads and Cup call ups, they’ve got to look on the bright side.
"We can’t get too down," he said. "But we can realize that we do need to work on things and get better at things."
Portland’s last win against RSL came in April 2011, on the heels of the home team’s loss to Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League final. The Timbers (4-4-7) had yet to beat RSL in four games with Caleb Porter at the helm, and were 0-1 at Rio Tinto this season.
But all that’s out the window now.
Out of the gates, RSL seemed to have regained their earlier form. Luke Mulholland’s fourth goal of the season put Real Salt Lake up 1-0 in the 23rd minute. The Englishman settled the ball after a deflected corner from Javier Morales and cooly slotted it in the left side of the net.
But Portland equalized in the 36th minute when Fanendo Adi headed home a corner from Diego Valeri for his third goal in just his fifth MLS game.
Then Adi, currently on loan to Portland from Denmark’s F.C. Copenhagen, wasted no time making it four in the 45th minute. Attinella dove to stone a Darlington Nagbe drive from close range, but RSL’s back line was unable to prevent Adi from clearing up.
"Those two goals should not happen. It’s naive choices," Cassar said, adding cheekily, "We probably could’ve made a foul that the referee would’ve not called."
Defender Chris Wingert said it was demoralizing to head in at the half with a deficit despite a flurry of chances from RSL, which had four shots on goal.
"I thought we were playing pretty well, getting a lot of chances, and we found ourselves down 2-1," he said.
The odds got longer for RSL in the 53rd minute, when defender Tony Beltran drew two yellows within a matter of seconds - the first on a tug, the second on a tackle from behind. Cassar said he thought the second yellow was harsh, but that he’ll reserve final judgment until he sees a replay.
Any remaining hope went out the window in the 73rd minute, when RSL defender Chris Schuler’s handball in the box gifted the Timbers a penalty, which RSL ex-pat Will Johnson buried in the left corner while Attinella dove right. It was the third straight game in which RSL’s opponents were awarded a penalty.
RSL (6-2-7) were playing of course without Cup call-ups Kyle Beckerman (who started and played 72 minutes in a 2-1 victory over Nigeria) and Nick Rimando and Cup casualty Alvaro Saborio.
They have been outscored in those five matches 9-4.
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