PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake came into Friday’s game eager for three points for two very different reasons, but they had to settle for a share after a scoreless draw on a rain-soaked night at Providence Park.
Highlight-reel saves throughout the night from both Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and RSL’s Nick Rimando were to thank for the stalemate as the teams frantically searched for a winner.
The point earned from the draw pulled Portland level with Vancouver on 46 points, but the Timbers sit, at the moment, in the fifth and final Western Conference playoff spot based on the second tiebreaker of goal differential. Vancouver faces San Jose tomorrow on the road.
Real Salt Lake had already clinched a playoff spot, but they now hold just a two-point lead over FC Dallas for third place in the West, with FCD still to play Saturday at Colorado.
- MLS Standings: Timbers above the red line on tiebreaker
In a rain-soaked first half marked by choppy play, the highlights belonged to the two goalkeepers.
Ricketts turned away the best chance between the two teams before halftime with a diving, fingertip save on a Robbie Findley header.
Rimando showed off with some flashy work of his own in goal, turning away a dangerous cross by Diego Valeri to a charging Fanendo Adi in the 18th minute. The US international, coming off a 90-minute shift in the US’ 1-1 draw Tuesday against Honduras, then hustled back to his line to save a Rodney Wallace shot off the rebound.
After halftime things got even wilder.
Both Valeri and defender Liam Ridgewell were booked early in the half after some contentious interactions with RSL players, with Kyle Beckerman also picking up a booking for the away team.
With the crowd buzzing, Darlington Nagbe and Valeri each had solid looks at the goal but couldn’t convert. And then Rimando struck again in the 61st minute, combining with Tony Beltran to turn away a Valeri shot, before following it up with a stunning denial of Nagbe on the line, followed by a shot from Adi on yet another rebound went into the side netting.
More great defending from RSL denied the Timbers another goal in the 67th minute when a Norberto Paparatto header off a Valeri corner kick was saved off the line by Luis Gil.
Another great save from Rimando, one of his six saves on the night, stoned Paparatto again on a corner-kick header in the 76th minute. A stoppage-time Maximiliano Urruti volley off a recycled corner kick gave RSL a scare, but it sailed just wide.
In all, the Timbers peppered RSL’s goal with 18 shots in the second half (23 for the game) to no avail.
The Timbers next play Tuesday against CD Olimpia in Honduras in the teams’ CONCACAF Champions League group stage finale. Portland’s final regular season game is Oct. 25 at FC Dallas.
Real Salt Lake wrap up their regular season on Wednesday at home against Chivas USA.
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.
Portland Timbers (11-9-13, 46pts) vs. Real Salt Lake (14-8-11, 53pts)
Oct. 17, 2014 – Providence Park (Portland, Ore.)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 0 0 0
Portland Timbers 0 0 0
RSL: Beckerman (Caution), 55
POR: Valeri (Caution), 55
POR: Ridgewell (Caution), 58
POR: Paparatto (Caution), 90+2
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Ricketts, D Powell, D Paparatto, D Ridgewell ©, D Villafaña, M Chara, M Valeri, M Zemanski, M Nagbe (Fernández, 82), M Wallace, F Adi (Urruti, 79)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Gleeson, D Harrington, D Jewsbury, D Kah, M Alhassan
TOTAL SHOTS: 23 (Wallace, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Paparatto, Wallace, 2); FOULS: 14 (Villafaña, 4); OFFSIDES: 7; CORNER KICKS: 9; SAVES: 3
RSL: GK Rimando, D Borchers, D Wingert, D Beltran, D Salcedo, M Grabavoy, M Beckerman ©, M Morales, M Gil (Grossman, 90), F Jaime (Plata, 65), F Findley (Saborio, 66)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Attinella, D Mansally, M Velasquez, F Garcia
TOTAL SHOTS: 14 (Gil, Morales, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Three players tied, 1); FOULS: 13 (Beckerman, 4); OFFSIDES: 1; CORNER KICKS: 2; SAVES: 7
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: CJ Morgante, Joe Fletcher
4th Official: Ricardo Salazar
Time of Game: 1:50
Weather: Rain, 57 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial