Match Recap & Highlights: Real Salt Lake - Portland Timbers
A week after these two teams produced fireworks in a 7-goal thriller, they battled to a sluggish scoreless draw.
The Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake fought to a 0-0 draw in a midweek matchup in Sandy, Utah. With both teams coming off of weekend games, it was tired legs that wound up winning the day as neither team could find the back of the net. Portland left Utah with their third clean sheet of 2023, and a road point.
With the schedule getting more congested and Portland in the middle of a stretch of three games in eight days, Giovanni Savarese opted for no rotation in the midweek matchup and rolled out the same starting eleven as in Portland’s win over the Whitecaps last Saturday.
The Timbers had to sit through a ninety minute weather delay before the game got underway due to thunderstorms in the area. It must have sapped Portland’s energy to have to wait in the locker room, as the Timbers came out the more sluggish of the two sides. Real Salt Lake controlled much of the opening minutes, but the Timbers settled in and wrestled back some control as the half went on.
Portland had some nice attacking flashes, but no finished product in the opening frame. The defense held up decently well, and had to rely upon the customary great save from Aljaz Ivacic to keep the match level at zeroes going into halftime.
The second half slowed to a sluggish slog as it wore on, with tired legs taking hold and quality chances proving to be a rare occurrence. Boli had a golden chance stonewalled by MacMath, RSL held the majority of possession and generated some decent looks, Dairon Asprilla hit the post, but ultimately neither team could find a goal as the game ended scoreless.
11’ Andrés Gómez, who haunted the Timbers last week in the U.S. Open Cup and scored a banger in Portland, nearly had another one as he rattled the post with a shot from distance.
14’ Evander kept the hosts honest as he forced a save from Zac MacMath with a dipping shot from distance on the left side of the box.
26’ Evander again popped up in a good spot, getting on the end of a beauty of a chipped ball from Franck Boli. The Brazilian’s angle was too tight and his shot slammed into the side netting, however.
43’ A nice little interplay moment had Mosqeura lob a pretty ball in for Santiago Moreno unmarked at the back post, but Santi couldn’t control the ball to put it on frame or lay it off for a teammate.
45’ Big save Jazzy! Ivacic reacts and gets down well to push away a header from Glad, and Ojeda’s follow-up pings off the crossbar and out.
45’+1 Emeka Eneli is shown a yellow card — which very nearly could have been a red — for a studs-up tackle on Diego Chara’s foot.
The teams went into halftime scoreless, with RSL out-shooting Portland 9-5. The Timbers however put more shots on target (3) compared to the hosts (2).
50’ Ivacic opens the half with a neat kick-save to block a shot from Chang a tight angle. The flag went up for offside anyway, but it was still another nice moment from Jazzy.
57’ Boli had a stinging first-time shot saved well by MacMath, in what was the best look at goal for either team of the game thus far.
64’ Portland made their first sub of the game as Dairon Asprilla came on for Yimmi Chara.
71’ Ivacic came up big yet again as he pushed aside a thunderbolt from distance from Glad.
73’ Boli is shown a yellow card for pulling down an RSL attacker… and that was his last action as he was subbed off for Nathan. Moreno was also replaced by Loria.
75’ Asprilla sent a hard shot from the top of the box barely wide, as it pinged off the post.
83’ Aljaz. Ivacic. Again. He tipped over a quick free kick from RSL after Portland was nearly caught out unawares.
The game petered out with neither team coming terribly close to scoring, and the whistle for full time blew with zeroes on the scoreboard for both teams.
The Timbers couldn’t score, but they managed just their third clean sheet of the season and picked up a point in the house of a Western Conference rival.
In what should have been expected from a midweek game after a lengthy weather delay, this one wound up being a sluggish affair. The quality was low in the attack for Portland, as the crisp and effective movement in the final third we saw last weekend was absent.
The backline showed itself well, and the Timbers did a much better job than the last time these two teams met of defending in the wide areas. McGraw showed once again that he is Portland’s most important defender with several critical blocks and interventions. And Ivacic did his usual thing and made several crucial saves, and deservedly leaves Utah with his first clean sheet of 2023.
Portland’s offense went cold, and Boli will probably want his second half chance back. But it’s hard to judge the overall state of quality of a team in a midweek game on short rest after a ninety minute delay in kickoff time. These types of games are usually decided by wacky moments of bad luck, and there just wasn’t one of those that mattered tonight.
All in all, it’s still a point on the road for Portland. And seven months after such a result would have put them in the playoffs, the Timbers will likely leave Utah with a sense of reserved, and exhausted, contentment.
The team returns to Portland to prepare for a quick turnaround when they face Minnesota United at Providence Park on Saturday May 20, with kickoff slated for 7:30 p.m. PT.