The Portland Timbers never seem to get along with their preseason opponents and tonight’s match against Real Salt Lake was no exception as the Timbers hung on for a 3-3 draw after a first half red card.
Surprising nobody, things got testy early in the match, kicking off with a trio of yellow cards to Alvas Powell, Yura Movsysian, and Luke Mulholland in the 24th minute after a fracas by the corner flag that saw Mulholland and Powell get into a shoving match after Powell shouldered the RSL player off the ball, and Movsysian come in to grab Powell by the throat.
Despite the rough play, the Timbers were able to increase their pressure on the RSL back line as the half wore on and, in the 36th minute, the Timbers’ got their break-through goal.
Powell curled a low cross into the RSL box, finding Darlington Nagbe in the box where the Timbers’ winger brought the ball down and pivoted to play a quick pass to Darren Mattocks. Controlling the ball, Mattocks was able to get off a quick shot as the RSL defense collapsed on him, only to see Nick Rimando turn the attempt aside. RSL were not yet out of the woods, however, as the ball fell directly to the feet Diego Valeri as the Maestro was able to hit a tight-angled shot past Rimando and into the back of the net to open the scoring.
Things flared up again in the 41st minute as MLS’s experimental video assisted replay was called into action. After a Movsysian shot was saved nicely by Jake Gleeson, referee Sorin Stoica was called over the the replay official on the side of the pitch. After a minute of review, Stoica returned to the pitch and gave Chara a red card for an apparent elbow to the head of Movsysian as the RSL forward took his shot.
In addition to the card, RSL was given a free kick from the spot of the foul, inches outside the Timbers’ box, and Joao Plata stepped up for the short-range free kick, hitting a perfectly placed ball over the wall and just off the underside of the cross bar to bring the sides even at 1-1.
Stoica’s role in the match was not over there, however.
In the final minute of second half stoppage time, the Timbers managed to get into the attack and put pressure on RSL despite being a man down. Working the ball out to Vytas on the left flank, the Timbers’ full back hit at cross into the box, only to have it blocked away by the raised arm of Jordan Allen. With some help form the stands, Stoica pointed to the spot, awarding a penalty. With the ball at the spot, Valeri stepped up and stroked a confident penalty past the dive of Rimando to give the Timbers back the lead.
Against the run of play, the Timbers would increase their lead in the 52nd minute through Darren Mattocks. With RSL pressing to even things up, Valeri was able to play an early cross to the top of the RSL box, where Jack Bamrby rose up above his defender to knock the ball forward to Mattocks. With the ball bouncing in front of him, Mattocks was able to body off a defender and hammer home a close range shot to extend the lead to 3-1.
The Timbers would not stay up by two for long, however, as RSL managed to snatch a goal back just two minutes later. After another spell of pressure form the visitors, Powell hit a low, headed clearance that fell to his old antagonist Mulholland in space. With room to line up his attempt, Mulholland let rip a low, hard shot that Jake Gleeson was able to get a hand to, but not keep out of the net, leaving the score at 3-2.
The tying goal would come for RSL in the 67th minute, again on a shot from distance. With the Timbers fighting to clear the ball out of their box, it looked like Ben Zemanski would get the ball away only for an errant bounce to leave him kicking at air. Instead the ball fell to RSL midfielder Omar Holness, who hit a crushing volley that tucked inside the far post past Jeff Attinella.
The Timbers play again on Sunday, facing Minnesota United in preseason play.