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Portland Timbers Stymied By Real Salt Lake in 0-0 Draw

The Timbers could not find a solution for Nick Rimando in tonight's tie.

Susan Ragan-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers could not break down a resolute Real Salt Lake defense despite a surge of shots in the second half. As has often been the case in matches between the two teams, it was Nick Rimando who played the hero for RSL, using his uncanny reflexes, a little bit of luck, and some kind of witchcraft to preserve the draw for the visitors.

In the first half both teams pushed the pace of the game, bring the ball down the pitch quickly in the attack and applying high pressure on defense.

The early going saw Salt Lake holding the Timbers back in their end and pumping in long-distance shots to little effect, putting them either at Donovan Ricketts or into touch.

After several minutes under siege, the Timbers finally broke out, using Diego Chara and Diego Valeri to run the break and circulate the ball. Suddenly, the Timbers were breaking down the pitch over and over, splitting the RSL defense with short, quick passes and long switches into open space.

RSL were not out of it entirely, however, and managed the half's best chance when Robbie Findley got over Alvas Powell to put a headed shot on goal. Ricketts was on the spot and equal to the task, getting down quickly and sprawling out to push the attempt wide.

Still, despite controlling the run of play as the half wore on the Timbers could not manage a credible shot on goal in the midst of a scrambling RSL back line, forcing only two saves from Rimando in the half.

The Timbers' domination of play in the first half was magnified in the second as they continued throwing themselves forward against the RSL defense until cracks started to show. Even when RSL brought in their most dangerous attacking options, recently returned national-teamers Alvoro Saborio and Joao Plata, the Timbers kept the pressure up.

The Timbers should have scored in the 61' when they got off a flurry of shots from within the RSL box. Rimando and his defenders formed a Voltron-esque wall across the goal, denying shots from Valeri, Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace, and Fanendo Adi in the course of seconds.

Luck was not with the Timbers on the night as they continued battering away at the RSL defense, peppering the goal with 16 on-frame shots, only to have Rimando or one of his defenders knock away each one. Even the Timbers' lone shout for a penalty was denied when, late in the game, Maximiliano Urruti fired a shot into the elbow of Nat Borchers in the box only to have referee Mark Geiger wave no-call.

The single point from the night pulls the Timbers even with the Vancouver Whitecaps , who now have a game in hand, in the race for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.