The Portland Timbers showed up again at home and finally got the shutout monkey off their back while giving Real Salt Lake their first MLS regular season loss in 18 games, going back to last year.
Portland really is a different team at home and it showed in the first 10 minutess as they really came out strong. They put a lot of pressure on RSL's defenders and did not allow them the time to try and build the attack. This disrupted Real Salt Lake's attack and allowed Portland to keep the ball in their offensive third for a good portion of the first 15 mins.
More after the Jump.
Real Salt Lake did weather the early onslaught and started to gain possession and tried to get Javier Morales involved in the game. However Portland's midfield did a great job staying compact and not allowing him time on the ball to find the open players. When Portland did win possession back we finally saw a build up in the attack rather than the long ball up the field. However the long ball still paid dividends as one such ball found Jorge Perlaza who laid it back to Khalif Alhassan. Alhassan cut into the center of the park and was fouled about 20 yards past the midfield line.
As usual Captain Jack Jewsbury stood over the ball as if he was waiting for players to get into the box. During this Kalif Alhassan leaked out to the touchline and Captain Jack slipped him the ball through the RSL defenders. Alhassan hit a perfect cross right into a dangerous area. Kenny Cooper was in the right spot at the right time as Nat Borchers tried to clear the ball but it went right off of Cooper and into the back of the net in the 22nd minute.
From that minute on Real Salt Lake looked rattled, this was the first time this year they had trailed in an MLS match. Some of their passes found Portland players rather than their own and Portland was able to counter quickly but unfortunately they were unable to capitalize. However Real Salt Lake did have their chances in the first half but Troy Perkins and the defense came up big and made the stops they had to make to ensure a clean sheet in the first half.
Khalif Alhassan almost gave Portland a 2-0 lead in the first half stoppage time but Nick Rimando came up huge with a great save on a far post shot.
Portland went into the half up 1-0.
Here are some first half stats: 6 Shots on Goal, 3 Corners and the possession 59% RSL and 41% Portland
Real Salt Lake came out energized and were really looking to exert their will on the game. Portland seemed content to cede the possession in RSL's half to RSL and sit back looking for the counter. With 9 and sometimes 10 men behind the ball RSL really found it hard to crack the Portland defense. When the Defense did crack Portland recovered and always had a body on the attacking player disrupting them with an attempt on goal.
When Portland did come up with possession they used Darlington Nagbe and Khalif Alhassan as a release valve and immediately pushed the attack. Portland's defensive shape really forced RSL away from their normal style of playing through the center of the park and out onto the wings. Once the ball went on the wings our outside backs and midfielders did a great job of pressuring the ball and not allowing any ball to be played into a dangerous area. If a ball did get crossed in our centerbacks were almost always the first to the ball and really didn't allow any dangerous shot on Troy Perkins.
Neither team had any dangerous chances in the first 15 minutess of the half as Portland continued to sit back and allow RSL to pass it around their backline. The first real chance for either team came in the 69th minute as Darlington Nagbe, who seemed a little gassed, was caught a little too central and allowed Morales to find a overlapping Christ Wingert. The cross was dangerous but Rodney Wallace did a great job following his man all the way across the mouth of the goal and knocked the ball out for a corner.
The next chance was again Real Salt Lake's when a foul was called on Jeremy Hall just outside Portland's box in the 72nd minute. Luckily Javier Morales put the ball into the wall and the second ball was cleared out of the danger area.
In the 73rd minute the Timbers, with the addition of Chara, were finally able to make that defensive sub as James Marcelin came in for Jorge Perlaza. This sub allowed Portland to sit back even more and absorb some of the pressure and when they won the ball look for the counter.
Portland really packed it in for the last 15 minutes and invited RSL to try and break down a 10 man defense. Perkins made the saves and RSL looked frantic as they tried for the equalizer, even going as far as to go down in the box at the slightest contact which the ref didn't bite on.
Portland did get two good counters in the final 5 minutes but were unable to put the game away. In the end Portland salted the game away and got their first shutout and another home win.
- Chara really calmed down our Midfield and we actually looked like we could hold possession at times
- The starting line-up was great although I was surprised Purdy was taken out
- Hall did a great job as the RB and showed some defensive chops
- Perkins was steady and made the saves that needed to be made
- Cooper is a beast on corners, both offensive and defensive corners as he leads the team in headers won on defensive corners.
- Wallace had his best defensive game and really saved a goal on the most dangerous RSL attack
- Portland played defense as a team and won this game as a team.
- If this keeps up Portland will have 51 points just from home games
- Anyone know a way to trick the players into thinking a road game is a home game?
- RSL supporters were chanting near the exit I used as if they finally realized that they didn't have to contend with the TA and could finally be heard.
- Had a noise meter and had a high of 110, this was in 216 and a ways away from TA. By the way the Blazers game on Thursday also had a reading of 110.
- MOTM Cooper
Bring on Open cup and hopefully some time off for some of our starters and some much needed playing time for some of the reserves.
Your thoughts on the game? Player ratings?