PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers left just about everybody at Providence Park wondering how they didn’t nab a goal Friday night against Real Salt Lake.
The fans weren’t the only ones left scratching their heads in the scoreless draw.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando has that effect on people.
Rimando stoned Nagbe when the Timbers forward had him dead to rights after a blocked shot from Valeri, then watched as teammate Chris Wingert cleared a Wallace shot off the line on the rebound before Adi had his rebound attempt deflected into the side netting.
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It was the most frantic sequence of events in an impressive Timbers onslaught that ultimately left them empty-handed.
Seven of their 23 shots were on goal, while they allowed only 13 RSL shots (three on goal).
“That’s why he’s the shutouts leader,” Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said of Rimando. “When he does retire – hopefully it’s soon – he’s going to down as one of the best goalkeepers in the history of this league. He came up big for them, and that’s probably the difference.”
Porter said he placed no fault on his group, saying they “left everything on the pitch.”
Portland came into the game trailing the Vancouver Whitecaps by one point, and they played like they wanted the win desperately. However, the draw pulled the Timbers now level on points with the Caps and Portland currently holds the fifth and final MLS Cup Playoff spot in the Western Conference via the goal differential tiebreaker.
“I thought we were the better team,” Porter said. “… That was clear with the chances created and the flow, you could see how much it meant to our guys.”
The good news for the Timbers is their playoff hopes are still alive.
Even if the Whitecaps win in their second-to-last match of the season Saturday at San Jose, it will come down to the final weekend of the season with Portland having to win in their season finale Oct. 25 at FC Dallas and Vancouver losing in their final game the same day at home against the Colorado Rapids. In that case, they would need to be separated by the goal differential tiebreaker, as they would be level on the first tiebreaker in the standings, total wins.
“We’re still in it and the season is going down to the last game,” said Timbers midfielder Rodney Wallace. "That’s our focus right now.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.