The Portland Timbers fell apart in every conceivable way on Wednesday night at Providence Park, posting a comprehensive 4-1 loss to Real Salt Lake. With red cards, a penalty, and perhaps the side’s worst home performance since joining MLS on offer, the Timbers and their fans had a very, very bad night.
The Timbers were always going to struggle in this match, coming in off their longest layoff of the year and sporting an unreasonably long list of injuries and absences to deal with. Still, it came as something of a surprise when the Timbers gave up the first goal to the visitors in just the 10th minute. When Tony Beltran found Kyle Beckerman in space wide on the Timbers’ right, the RSL captain had plenty of time to line up his shot, hitting a booming ball that dipped over the waving hand of Jake Gleeson and into the back of the net.
While the Timbers looked dangerous in spurts, the lack of any sort of defensive solidity or midfield pressure left the team on the back foot for most of the first half and in the 33rd minute, RSL were almost able to extend their lead. With the Timbers’ back line stationary, RSL winger Jefferson Savarino made a lung busting diagonal run that left the Timbers’ back line in his dust. All it took was a simple through ball from Albert Rusnak and Savarino was in on goal. One on one with Gleeson, Savorino tried to slip the ball past the Timbers’ keeper only for Gleeson to get a paw on the ball, keeping the deficit at one.
The second RSL goal would come early in the second half as the visitors pushed forward in the 47th minute. Again it was Savorino causing problems for the Timbers, getting on the ball in the box and holding it up as Dairon Asprilla and Zarek Valentin closed in on him. As Savarino touched the ball deftly away, Asprilla got a chunk of his foot, taking down the man and missing the ball, giving referee Baldomero Toledo no choice but to point to the spot. RSL No. 10 Joao Plata stepped up to the spot and converted coolly, sending Gleeson one way as his shot went the other.
Now down by a brace, the Timbers pushed hard for a chance to close the gap and it was that same hard push that saw Victor Arboleda, brought on as a first half sub for re-injured full back Chance Myers, go hard into Plata with his elbow in the air. The foolish moment drew a quick red card from Toledo and signaled the beginning of the end for the Timbers in the 53rd minute.
Just two minutes later it was clear that the Timbers were in full meltdown mode as Fanendo Adi and Kyle Beckerman came together in the midfield. After a foul was called on Beckerman, Adi immediately got in the RSL player’s face, bowling him over with a vigorous chest bump and falling on top of him, leaving Toledo with no choice but to issue the game’s second red. Moments later Beckerman received his marching orders as well, although the cause was less immediately clear.
With the field now empty of players and the Timbers chasing the game, it was open season on the break for RSL.
First Rusnak got a goal of his own in the 68th minute, getting on the ball in the box and slamming a shot off the underside of the bar for the tally. Adding insult to injury, the shot initially bounced out of goal, only to smack into the back of Gleeson and fall over the line. Next came Plata in the 80th minute for his second goal of the match. Latching on to a through ball from full back Danilo Acosta, Plata burned past the Timbers’ back line before slotting a low shot past Gleeson to give RSL the 4-0 lead.
Jack Barmby pulled a goal back in the final minute of stoppage time.