SANDY, Utah — The Portland Timbers played Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake evenly, but a second-half goal from midfielder Ned Grabavoy secured a 1-0 win for Real Salt Lake at home on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
As it was beginning to look like Saturday evening's match at Rio Tinto Stadium would produce the fifth tie of the season for both teams, veteran midfielder Grabavoy provided the goal. The 30-year-old took a pass from Sebastián Velásquez and drove past Darlington Nagbe into the area before finishing left-footed past Donovan Ricketts in the 78th minute.
The Timbers weren't about to lay down, however. In the 85th minute, Portland substitute Gastón Fernández found Alvas Powell with an inspired through ball to give him a clear shot at the goal, only to see RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando make a tough kick save to preserve the lead.
Rimando – back on the field after missing RSL's last two games because of knee injury – had the sell-out crowd back on their feet just three minutes later when, after a giveaway by RSL captain Kyle Beckerman, Fernández curled in a beautiful shot on target only to see Rimando leap up and knock it around the post.
Even Rimando, however, needed a bit of luck throughout the game. He was beaten in the 58th minute on a rocket by Portland's Maximiliano Urruti that came back off the woodwork and breathed another sigh of relief just two minutes later when Urruti fired a breakaway chance wide right.
Portland also got some help from the post in the 73rd minute, when a great run by RSL left back Chris Wingert set up Javier Morales, whose placed finish beat Ricketts only to find the frame.
Much of the away side's best play in the first half came from the feet of Nagbe. The youngster had his best moment in the 18th minute when he burst past three RSL players and had defender Nat Borchers in retreat, only to see Rimando react superbly as he tried to go top shelf, getting a big paw on the close-range effort and turning it behind.
In addition to securing three points, the timely saves throughout the match proved vital in Rimando earning his 111th career shutout, leaving him just one short of tying the all-time MLS record of 112 held by Kevin Hartman.
The win leaves Real Salt Lake (3-0-4) as the only unbeaten team in MLS, while Portland (0-3-4) remain winless. The result also saw RSL run their record against the defending Western Conference regular season champions since the start of 2012 to 8-0-2 in all competitions.
Real remain home next week, hosting the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday. The Timbers remain on the road, but have an extra day to prepare for a Sunday match at Houston on April 27.
Portland Timbers (0-3-4, 4pts) at Real Salt Lake (3-0-4, 13pts)
April 19, 2014 – Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Timbers 0 0 0
Real Salt Lake 0 1 1
RSL: Grabavoy (Velasquez), 78
POR: Danso (Caution), 33
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Jewsbury (Powell, 83), D Danso, D Kah, D Harrington, M Johnson ©, M Valeri (Fernández, 61), M Chara, F Alhassan (Nanchoff, 77), F Urruti, F Nagbe
Substitutes Not Used: GK Weber, D Paparatto, M Zemanski, F Villafaña
TOTAL SHOTS: 9 (Urruti, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Four players, 1); FOULS: 11 (Chara, 3); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 2
RSL: GK Rimando, D Beltran, D Schuler, D Borchers, D Wingert, M Morales, M Beckerman ©, M Grabavoy, M Mulholland (Velasquez, 67), F Saborío (Sandoval, 90+3), F Garcia (Plata, 67)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Attinella, D Maund, M Gil, M Mansally,
TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Grabavoy, Morales, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Grabavoy, 2); FOULS: 18 (Morales, 6); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4
Referee: Drew Fischer
Assistant Referees: Daniel Belleau, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 60 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial