SANDY, Utah – In a battle between two teams fighting for an Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoff spot, it was the Portland Timbers who came out on top in a 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake.
The Timbers picked up a pivotal victory over their Western Conference rival, staving off the team immediately behind them in the standings and all but ending RSL’s postseason hopes. A red card and a Fanendo Adi penalty kick, awarded when Jamison Olave took down a sprinting Lucas Melano at the edge of the penalty area in the second half, was all it took to secure the full three points.
The Timbers now move above the red line, tied with fifth-place Seattle Sounders on 47 points from 32 games, three points clear of the San Jose Earthquakes and six over RSL and the Houston Dynamo.
The Timbers played a very high line of pressure from the opening kick and frustrated RSL in possession and also had the fair share of chances on the counterattack throughout the first half.
Seven minutes into the second half, the game completely changed.
In the 52nd minute, Timbers forward Melano got in behind the RSL’s backline. Olave couldn’t quite catch him and eventually was whistled for taking him down right at the 18-yard box. Referee Juan Guzman consulted with the sideline judge and awarded a penalty kick and a red card for Olave, his third of the season.
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Timbers forward Adi stepped to the spot and slipped a low shot past Nick Rimando.
RSL head coach Jeff Cassar brought on a number of attack-minded subs and left only three defenders in the back, searching for at least an equalizer to extend the team’s postseason chances.
RSL had a couple of chances to pull level, and they both came at the feet of midfielder Javier Morales.
In the 69th minute, Juan Manuel Martinez sent a cross toward the top of the box where Morales was able to volley a magnificent, dipping shot towards goal. Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey was equally magnificent in leaping high to get a hand to it and send it over the bar.
Morales again nearly found the equalizer in the first minute of stoppage time after Justin Glad fed him the ball in the box. The veteran midfielder was able to get a shot off that was redirected thanks to a deflection. Kwarasey brilliantly reacted to it and knocked it wide, preserving the victory.
One last ditch cross from Martinez in the final minute of the game was adeptly smothered yet again by Kwarasey, keeping alive Portland’s playoff hopes and leaving RSL’s streak of seven straight postseason appearances in serious jeopardy.
Portland Timbers (13-11-8, 47pts) at Real Salt Lake (11-13-8, 41pts)
Oct. 14, 2015 – Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Timbers 0 1 1
Real Salt Lake 0 0 0
POR: Adi (penalty kick), 54
POR: Powell (Caution), 28
RSL: Olave (Ejection), 52
POR: Fochive (Caution), 72
RSL: Glad (Caution), 81
POR: Urruti (Caution), 89
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Kwarasey, D Powell, D Borchers, D Ridgewell ©, D Villafaña, M Chara, M Valeri (Urruti, 85), M Nagbe (Nanchoff, 90+3), F Melano (Fochive, 63), F Adi, F Wallace
Substitutes Not Used: GK Gleeson, D Jeanderson, D Paparatto, D Peay
TOTAL SHOTS: 15 (Adi, Valeri, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Adi, 3); FOULS: 12 (Five players tied, 2); OFFSIDES: 5; CORNER KICKS: 0; SAVES: 2
RSL: GK Rimando, D Allen (Garcia, 75), D Olave, D Maund, D Beltran, M Mulholland, M Beckerman ©, M Martinez, M Morales, M Plata (Silva, 49), F Jaime (Glad, 56)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Attinella, M Pecka, M Stertzer, F Sandoval
TOTAL SHOTS: 7 (Morales, Plata, 2); SHOTS ON GOAL: 2 (Morales, 2); FOULS: 13 (Maund, 4); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4
Referee: Juan Guzman, Jr.
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Jeff Hosking
4th Official: Alejandro Marisco
Time of Game: n/a
Weather: Partly Cloudy, 63 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial