With Diego Chara out and Jaroslaw Niezgoda hampered with minor injuries, the Timbers fielded an adjusted lineup. Eryk Williamson got his first start of the season, and his first since tearing his ACL last season. Yimmi Chara started the game as a false nine, trying to lead the line the best he could.
The first half was a cagey affair, with Real Salt Lake sitting their lines deeper and daring the Timbers to try to break them down. They did so admirably, forcing the Timbers wide in most of their attacks. The few opportunities the Timbers had to attack in transition in the opening frame looked promising, an encouraging look for a Portland team that has yet to rediscover their counterattacking mojo in 2022.
However, Portland’s attackers couldn’t quite all get in the same page in the first half — or create space to operate. The Timbers didn’t commit the numbers forward that they would have liked and couldn’t create many quality chances in the first half. There were flashes, but not any major moments of quality. The closest Portland found were long-distance efforts from centerback Bill Tuiloma, but neither of his attempts were particularly dangerous.
The start of the second half showed slightly more urgency from the Timbers, who again found one or two decent-looking attacking moves. But again, they couldn’t find the final ball. RSL’s defense continued to prove stout — and their attack was almost opportunistically fortunate.
The visitors found two golden chances to snag a goal in the second half, but because of the salvation of the post and skilled reaction saves from Aljaz Ivacic, the Timbers were able to keep RSL off the board.
In the end, the game ended scoreless, which was a scoreline that was probably fair in the long run. Portland’s attack continued to misfire and, while their defense were able to keep RSL off the board, this was a game where it truly felt like the Timbers left valuable points on the table.
For Portland to truly get their 2022 campaign up and running, more work is needed to find the thing everyone values the most in the game of soccer: goals.
- 3’ First chance of the game came to the Timbers off of a counterattack, in which Santiago Moreno had a slick backheel at midfield in the build-up. The chance ended with the ball at Sebastian Blanco’s feet, who had a go off of the volley, but skied the ball.
- 5’ Nearly another chance for the Timbers, as Moreno forced an error from a Salt Lake defender. Santi nearly got to the ball in the box, but it’s just cleared.
- 16’ Timbers registered the first shot on goal of the night, as Bill Tuiloma elevated to fire a header on frame. Zac MacMath was positioned well, however, to snatch the ball.
- 18’ Claudio Bravo made a fantastic block right on the doorstep, as a scramble in the box produced the first chance for the visitors.
- 20’ Aljaz Ivacic is called into action to punch away an RSL free kick. Jazzy did well to clear the initial ball and collect the follow-up.
- 26’ ‘Twas nearly another Bill Tuiloma special, as he fired a free kick on goal from just outside the RSL box. MacMath again was positioned well, and he caught the attempt.
- 38’ After a long spell of “things almost but not quite happening,” Paredes created some excitement by lobbing a shot off the volley from a long way out. MacMath had to leap to tip the ball over the bar.
- 40’ A group of supporters, organized under the name Soccer City Accountability Now, raised a number of banners and two-sticks with the phrase “YOU KNEW” in protest to the actions of the Timbers’ leadership in response to the sexual coercion allegations directed towards Paul Riley and the alleged domestic violence incidents involving Andy Polo.
- 45’ Tuiloma nearly opened the scoring as he ran onto a loose ball and ripped a shot from distance. MacMath was rooted to his spot, but the shot fizzed wide of the post.
- First half ends with Timbers and RSL still knotted at 0–0. Timbers held the edge with shots and shots on target, but couldn’t find many clear-cut scoring opportunities. RSL was limited to just a single shot in the opening 45 minutes.
- 51’ A quality attacking build-up! From the Timbers! Some good interplay between Moreno, Williamson, Yimmi Chara, and Blanco resulted in a great lofted ball in and won Portland a corner kick. Nothing came of the set piece, but it was an encouraging move from a Timbers attack that still looked to be stuck in second gear.
- 55’ Moreno curled an attempt from distance from just inside the box, but MacMath was equal to save the shot.
- 59’ Giovanni Savarese made the first roll of the dice of the game, subbing on Jaroslaw Niezgoda for Sebastian Blanco. Yimmi Chara and Dairon Asprilla shifted to their more preferred positions on the wing and in the attacking midfield, respectively.
- 63’ An almighty scramble in the visiting team’s box had multiple attempts on goal blocked by RSL defenders. It felt like the Timbers were inching closer and closer to finding the breakthrough.
- 66’ But it was RSL who would almost find a breakthrough of their own. Pablo Ruiz found himself free in the box and with sights on goal. He rifled a shot on frame, and it pinged off the left post. The Timbers eventually were able to clear the danger.
- 71’ Portland made a double sub, as David Ayala subbed on for Eryk Williamson, and Marvin Loria subbed on for Santiago Moreno.
- 76’ RSL inched their way back and earned a good chance, as Maikel Chang found himself free at the far post to get on the end of a long ball. Chang worked free of Bravo, and volleyed a shot on goal. Ivacic reacted well, and was in the right place at the right time to snag the ball.
- 88’ Final roll of the dice for Gio, as he introduced two centerbacks to the fray. Zac McGraw and Dario Zuparic were brought on for Josecarlos Van Rankin and Yimmi Chara, in what was an attempt to get the big bodies on the field to try to steal something out of the game.
- 90’+3 In second half stoppage time, a good move from Marvin Loria and David Ayala resulted with Niezgoda with the ball at his feet at the top of the box. Jaro fired a low shot from distance, but again MacMath as there to make the save at the far post.
- FULL TIME: Timbers–0, Real Salt Lake–0. Portland’s attacking inefficiencies were on display yet again, as they were held scoreless for a second straight match.
The Timbers are next in action on Saturday, April 30, where they will travel to Commerce City to face the Colorado Rapids on the road at 6 p.m.