The Portland Timbers grabbed an early lead against Real Salt Lake and held on for the 1-0 win in a tight, chippy match.
The Timbers came out of the locker room swinging, taking the game to RSL in the game’s early moments and putting plenty of pressure on the visitors.
That pressure would pay off in the 12th minute, starting with an ambitious shot from distance from Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe’s shot would be blocked down by the body of RSL center back Chris Schuler, but the ensuing rebound fell to the feet of Fanendo Adi. With RSL defenders all around him, the Timbers big man held the ball up, taking several touches in the box before finding a clear lane to slip the opening goal past RSL keeper Nick Rimando, rooted to his line.
With the Timbers in the lead, RSL shook off the rust and were able to wrest some possession from the Timbers and open up the match. As RSL pushed forward, however, the Timbers were more than happy to look for opportunities to go on the counter, streaking down the pitch and narrowly missing out on several opportunities in the RSL box.
As the match continued, RSL were able to get more and more dangerous, earning a series of free kicks around the Timbers box. Still, the home side were able to hold on even as the match got increasingly chippy in its final minutes.
The strange nature of the match culminated in a yellow card given to Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson for time wasting, even as the Timbers motioned to Alvas Powell who was down on the pitch and asking for treatment from the trainers. Gleeson then played the ball out to get treatment for Powell, only for RSL to immediately take a quick throw in and go on the attack. Driving at the Timbers’ box, Joao Plata was taken down, giving RSL a free kick in a dangerous spot. The Timbers’ trainer was eventually allowed on the pitch to see to Powell, who had to be substituted, and Plata whipped in the free kick, which Gleeson punched away.
The win keeps the Timbers in 6th place, but moves them to within one of Sporting Kansas City in 5th. Up next the Timbers head to Costa Rica to take on Saprissa in CONCACAF Champions League play on Wednesday before returning home to face the Philadelphia Union on Saturday.