The Portland Timbers 2022 season came to an unceremonious end as they lost 3-1 to Real Salt Lake on Decision Day. The Timbers needed any sort of positive result to make the postseason for the sixth straight year, but instead they crashed with an absolute thud. Dairon Asprilla pulled a goal back late, but the Timbers still allowed a team that had won just twice since mid-July put three past them, and snuff out their postseason chances.
After a week dominated by off-field news, on-field the Timbers were without the key face of Diego Chara due to a gastrointestinal issue he experienced earlier this week. In his stead, young David Ayala stepped in next to Cristhian Paredes in Portland’s midfield.
Per a Timbers source: Diego Chara was admitted and released from the hospital earlier this week with severe abdominal pain. Gastrointestinal issue.— Ryan Clarke (@RyanTClarke) October 9, 2022
He did not travel with the team and won’t play today vs. RSL. #RCTID
Zac McGraw slotted in for the suspended Dario Zuparic and Dairon Asprilla rotated back in at forward, and Jaroslaw Niezgoda was relegated to the bench.
The #DecisionDay XI @McDonalds x #RCTID pic.twitter.com/rdwtZxSfHC— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) October 9, 2022
The hosts came out dominant in the first half, controlling possession and producing the lion’s share of goal scoring opportunities. One of those paid off in the 19th minute, as Jefferson Savarino curled an effort past the arm of Aljaz Ivacic and into the back of the net.
The Timbers looked unorganized and listless in the opening frame, providing very little on-ball pressure defensively and conceding acres of space in wide areas to RSL’s attackers. It went from bad to worse for Portland as McGraw went down with a non-contact injury to his left hamstring midway through the first half, forcing a shift in Portland’s formation.
Despite conceding chance after chance and producing almost nothing themselves, the Timbers went into the locker room down by just the single goal.
The second half started, somehow, worse than the first. Real Salt Lake added a second goal via former Beaverton, OR resident Rubio Rubin four minutes after halftime. The Timbers, needing an urgent response, showed very little signs of reviving their season in the second half, showing little offensive urgency.
RSL added a third via Bode Hidalgo late in the second half to effectively end proceedings, despite Dairon Asprilla pulling a goal back for the Timbers even later.
The final whistle blew a few minutes after, ending the match — and Portland’s 2022 campaign.
3’ The first big chance of the game fell to RSL, but Jefferson Savarino was a mile offside, so as the ball hit the back of the net the flag went up.
8’ Sergio Cordova sent a shot just wide of Portland’s goal, as Ivacic was rooted to his spot.
11’ First chance of the game for the Timbers. Some sweet passing interplay between Yimmi Chara and Paredes at the top of the box nearly sprung in Yimmi behind— but the younger Chara sibling opted to pass instead of shoot, and the danger was cleared.
19’ Goal Real Salt Lake 1-0. Savarino cut past Paredes at the top of Portland’s box, and curled a beauty of a ball past McGraw and the outstretched arm of Ivacic into the back of the net to make things 1-0 in favor of the claret & cobalt.
23’ Marcel Silva nearly doubled the host’s advantage, as he flashed a header just wide of the goal off a corner kick.
27’ David Ayala was shown a yellow card for a mistimed tackle on an attacker.
34’ Zac McGraw went down with what appeared to be a non-contact injury to his left hamstring. The defender had to be helped off the field
35’ Jaroslaw Niezgoda subbed on for the injured McGraw, shifting the Timbers from a back-three to a back-four system for the duration of the match.
The first half ended with the Timbers trailing 1-0. It could have been far worse, as Portland got outshot eight to three in the first forty-five minutes. Still, they went into the locker room with a one goal deficit, needing to turn things around to save their playoff hopes.
In need of a response in the second half to save their season, the Timbers instead wilted in almost immediate fashion.
49’ Goal Real Salt Lake 2-0. Rubio Rubin, who hails from Beaverton, Oregon, doubled RSL’s advantage. Rubin ghosted off of his defender and get on the end of a cross into the box. He hit a low shot towards the goal, and it took a nasty deflection off Bill Tuiloma and sailed past Ivacic into the bottom of the net.
54’ In need of two goals to keep their season alive, the Timbers subbed on... Josecarlos Van Rankin and Marvin Loria. They replaced Claudio Bravo and David Ayala.
60’ Not read to quit just yet, Ivacic made a flying stop to palm away a dangerous looking cross right in front of his goal.
64’ Rubin nearly slammed the door closed, as sent a shot just wide of the net.
69’ Yimmi Chara slammed the post with a shot, after what was a nice passing interplay with the Timbers. It was by inches that he was denied Portland’s first goal.
74’ Sebastian Blanco finally made his long-awaited introduction into the game, replacing Santiago Moreno.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the Timbers didn’t look any more likely to score than they did in the 75 minutes prior. The team still showed little urgency, cohesion, or impotence to try to fight back into the most important game of the season.
80’ Niezgoda was a step slow to get to a great low whipped ball in from Asprilla, and could only get a toe to it to send it feebly wide of the goal.
83’ Goal Real Salt Lake 3-0. Bode Hidalgo easily raced past Van Rankin and smashed a strong effort from the middle of the box into the net, well and truly ending Portland’s season.
87’ GOAL TIMBERS 3-1. Dairon Asprilla hammered a shot from the top of the box towards the goal, and it took a deflection off an RSL defender. The deflection sent it past MacMath, and salvaged one goal for the Timbers.
October things.@daironasprilla x #RCTID pic.twitter.com/udifWlLoth— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) October 9, 2022
The whistle for full-time blew, and the Timbers’ 2022 season came to an end at the hands of a disaster of a 3-1 result in Sandy, Utah.
There will be time for remonstrations and full autopsy of the 2022 season for the Timbers. But for now what is very clear is that on the final day of the season, in the biggest game of the season, the Timbers simply failed to show up.