Despite a flurry of chances in the final minutes, the Timbers bow out of the competition.
Wednesday nights in May are for Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup elimination matches, and Providence Park was treated to a classic. Portland played host to Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake in the round of 32. The teams traded goals back and forth but despite a flurry of chances in the final minutes, the Timbers fell 4-3 to RSL.
Portland came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, finding the back of the net in just the 4th minute of action. Miscommunication in RSL's defense allowed for a scheming Sebastian Blanco to score off a giveaway. His first goal since coming back from injury, #10 was once again on the scoresheet and giving Portland the edge.
Soon after the initial goal, the game became more grounded, with both clubs fighting for possession and offensive flow. Other than a few approaches that resulted in corner kicks for Portland, the game was caught in the midfield.
The visitors would strike back in the 30th minute, courtesy of Danny Musovski. Just over 10 minutes later they would turn the game around and find their second via Carlos Gomez. After having the early lead, Portland headed to the locker room down 1-2 at halftime.
Goals galore, they kept pouring on both sides in the second half.
The Timbers, much like in the first half, came out on full-attack mode. The equalizer arrived just five minutes after the referee's whistle in the form of a rocket-of-a-goal by leftback Justin Rasmussen. During a build-up play on the right side of RSL final third, Rasmussen patiently waited on the left, looking for his chance. It came as a back touch from Caliskan found him at the semi-circle, and with a first-time right-footed blast, Rasmussen sent the ball into the top bin, and the North End into a frenzy.
The green smoke was still thick in the air when Niezgoda took matters into his own hands and notched the Timbers third of the night, just two minutes after Rasmussen's equalizer. A goal-hunter knows where to be at the right time, and Niezgoda was there, in the box as a Tyler Clegg cross into the box was headed onto his feet. The Polish striker made no mistake and buried it past Gavin Beavers to restore the Timbers lead.
As Open Cup matches tend to be, the drama was not yet over. RSL pushed quickly and found both an equalizer and go-ahead goal via Maikel Chang in the 55th and 59th, adding to the whirlwind night.
The Timbers fought back again and again over the next 30 minutes in search of an equalizer to keep their Open Cup aspirations alive. A couple approaches in stoppage time kept Providence Park on the edge of their seat, however RSL would hold strong and secure their passage to the round of 16.
Portland's run for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup ends in the round of 32, and focus now shifts back to league play. Timbers host Cascadia rivals Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday May 13. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.
HIGHLIGHTS: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake | May 10, 2023