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RSL victorious, but Timbers get a lifeline

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

Real Salt Lake clinched the first leg of the Western Conference final, defeating Portland Timbers by 4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday. Chris Schuler, Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval and Javier Morales registered for the home side, while Will Johnson and Frederic Piquionne scored for the Timbers.

Real Salt Lake probably had the psychological edge over their rivals, having beaten the TImbers twice this season at home and being unbeaten against them in their last eight outings. The home team, however, had to contend without star forward Alavaro Saborio , who suffered a hip flexor injury against LA Galaxy in the second leg of the Western Conference semi.

Timbers coach Caleb Porter fielded a positive XI, with playmaker Diego Valerie sitting behind the forward trio of Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson and Rodney Wallace. The Portland side also had good form under their belt, going into the game with a 10-game winning streak.

RSL shaded the possession in the opening exchanges, but it were the Timbers who drew first blood. After playmaker Diego Valerie was fouled outside the box, captain Will Johnson stepped up to take the free-kick. The ex-RSL man brilliantly capitalized from the dead-ball in the 14th minute and beat Rimando at his bottom-right.

RSL began to enjoy a good spell of possession as the half progressed and had a couple of decent half chances from Kyle Beckerman and Nat Borchers. They finally made it count in the 35th minute, when defender Chris Schuler rose well above the Timbers defense and slotted home from the corner to draw the home side level.

The Timbers fans would’ve had their hearts in their mouths again in the 38th minute when another the ball bounced ominously in the box following a Moales corner, before finally cleared off the line by Valierie. Soon after, defender Nat Borchers also had an opportunity from a Beckerman cross, but the RSL man shot over the bar from close range.

Nonetheless, the home attendance did not have to wait long for their home side to pull ahead, as Portland defender Mamadou Danso failed to control a fairly simple ball in Timbers defense. Robbie Findley slipped in behind the defender to calmly finish past keeper Donovan Ricketts in the 40th minute.

RSL soon stretch get the two-goal cushion following a second-half kickoff. Morales, who had constantly found space between the Timbers midfield and defense, threaded Robbie Findley down the flank. The forward’s low cross found Sandoval in the box, who finished neatly in the 48th minute.

A relatively quiet phase of play followed. Portland were probing, yet not sufficiently threatening. Substitutes Khalif Alhassan and Frederic Piquionne  attempted a couple of long-rangers, but none of them tested Rimando.

It was RSL, however, who stretched the lead even further with a goal from Javier Morales in the 81st minute. The play started with an excellent RSL chance, when a Morales header was glanced goal-wards by Luis Gil, but then brilliantly kept out by keeper Ricketts. The resulting corner from substitute Plata was met by Morales low in the box, whose diving header went past Ricketts.

Portland Timbers, were thrown a lifeline in the dying minutes of second-half injury time, when a deep cross from full-back Paul Jewsbury was brilliantly headed in by Frederic Piquionne. The header sufficient power and direction to beat keeper Rimando and kept the Timbers in the two-legged series.

The six-goal thriller was a repeat score-line of an earlier encounter between the two sides in the regular season at Rio Tinto. Both coaches could take positives from the game: Jason Kreis probably would’ve taken a two-goal lead before the start of the game, while Caleb Porter could take heart from the last-minute goal and would feel that they’re capable of overturning the two-goal deficit on their own turf.

The teams face again in the second leg on November 24 at Jen-Weld Stadium.

 

 

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RSL beat Galaxy, Progress to Conference Finals

Posted on 08 November 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

RSL knocked out reigning MLS Cup Champions LA GAlaxy at home  (2-0 in 2nd leg, 2-1 aggregate) and progressed to Western Conference Finals. Sebastian Velasquez scored in the first half to level the aggregate score, followed by Chris Schuler’s winner in extra-time.

The host did have a formidable task at hand from the get-go, looking to overturn a Sean Franklin goal that they conceded in the first leg. They were also hoping to address the psychological block of not scoring a single goal in the last 335 minutes in MLS playoffs.

RSL were missing key midfielder Ned Gravaboy due to a hamstring injury, but were welcoming back Joao Plata on the bench.  Galaxy fielded a strong XI, with the forward duo of Landon Donovan and Robbie Keane sharing  an impressive 28 goals between them.

RSL started the game with a high tempo, going direct to forward Alvaro Saborio and trying to beat the Galaxy midfield to the second ball. However, it was the away team with the first chance of the match in the 4th minute, as Galaxy winger Gyasi Zardes broke free from Tony Beltran to set up Landon Donovan. The forward’s curler from the edge of the box went over the bar.

RSL found themselves with a great opportunity to take the lead in the 15th minute, when Kyle Beckerman found Saborio in the box, but the Costa Rican headed wide from close range. Galaxy were breaking with pace down the flanks with winger Robbie Rogers producing a fine ball from the byline. However, there was no white shirt in the box to slot it home.

Robbie Rogers again found himself in the box in the 28th minute following a Galaxy corner.  The winger’s scuffed effort went wide.

RSL took the lead in the 36th minute when full-back Chris Wingert’s cross found Sebastian Velasquez in the box. The young RSL midfielder made no mistake from close range to pull RSL level on the aggregate. The goal was really well-engineered by Javier Morales, whose excellent vision switched play to the left, with Wingert in plenty of space.

Galaxy was quick to shift gears and pressed forward after going a goal down, winning a flurry of corners before the first-half ended. The home team, however, was able to hold till the whistle.

The LA outfit continued where they left off, but it was RSL had the first clear-cut chance. A Morales set-piece in the 53rd minute beat the traffic in the box and forced Jaime Penedo to make the first real save of the game.

A frantic one-minute period at the 65th minute saw Rogers’ low cross spilled by Rimando, following which a desperate RSL defense was barely able to keep away Donovan’s left-footer from fairly close range. Following a Chris Schuler clearance, Saborio was able to hurry the Galaxy defense into conceding a corner within a space of a few seconds.

As the game progressed, RSL began to get a stronger hold of the game. In the 75th minute, Chris Schuler headed into the crossbar following a Morales free-kick. Luck again denied RSL as Saborio hit the crossbar again from the edge of the box in the 78th minute after good hold-up play from substitute Olmes Garcia.

RSL would finally find the back of the net in the 83rd minute when a Morales free-kick went untouched in the box and found the Galaxy net. However, the referee controversially disallowed the goal, supposedly for some infringement in the box. RSL would consider themselves unlucky, as the goal appeared legit in the replays.

The 90th minute saw another scrap near the LA goal following a Luis Gil Cross. Garcia seemed to have the final touch, but Penedo was able to hold on to the ball.

RSL carried on with their momentum into extra-time and took a long overdue two-goal lead in the 12th minute of extra-time when another Morales set-piece found Schuler at the far post. The veteran defender slotted in home from close range.

The Galaxy keeper and defense have dealt with Morales’ set-pieces poorly throughout the game and it seemed inevitable that the Argentine would eventually make them pay.

More controversy followed as a Donovan goal was ruled offside due to what appeared to be a foul on Nat Borchers. RSL had even more disconcerting matters to attend to, as Alvaro Saborio went off injured after coach RSL coach Jason Kreis used up all of his substitutions. The home team were forced to  defend their narrow lead with only 10 men in the last 10 minutes.

The last few minutes saw desperate goal-mouth action in RSL box  substitute Jose Villareal, Gyasi Zardes and Sean Franklin all had chances to level the tie. However, the men in claret-and-cobalt were able to see out the nervy final minutes.

The final whistle sent a raucous home crowd into jubilation, as their side take on Portland Timbers in the Western Conference Final.

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RSL keep Shield hope alive with Chivas win

Posted on 24 October 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

RSL closed their regular season with a comfortably with a 2-1 win over Chivas USA at Rio Tinto and in the process securing at least a second seed in the playoffs.  All the goals came in the second half, with Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata scoring for the hosts and

Having secured a playoff position last Saturday, RSL were coming into the last game of the season looking for a win and hoping that Sporting KC, Red Bulls and Portland Timbers slip up, as the teams jostle for the Supporters’ Shield. An RSL win would propel them to a minimum of 2nd seed, whereas anything less would mean that RSL needed to rely on a host of other results in the Western Conference for a favorable seeding.

Chivas USA were coming into the game bottom of the Western Conference with only 26 points, as they were hoping to end their road campaign on a high.

The first chance of the game came to Chivas, as Edgar Meija found space in the right flank and spotted Erick Torres in the box. The forward’s rushed effort was blocked by Chris Schuler. RSL soon had a chance of their own, as a break-away in the 12th minute found Joao Plata at the edge of the box. The forward’s effort went over the bar.

Chivas soon created more problems down the right flankas Eric Avila ominously ran with pace down the byline in the 16th minute. His cross was met by Torres, whose header forced a good save off Rimando. Carlos Alvarez tried to pounce on the rebound, but his effort went wide.

As the half wore on, RSL predictably took more control of the game and looked particularly threatening from set-pieces. Forward Alvaro Saborio towered over the Chivas defense on several occasions, most notably in the 28th minute from a Beckerman free-kick. The Costa-Rican’s header was saved by  Chivas keeper and former RSL man Tim Meila.

The teams went into the half 0-0, but Kreis could have been worried having both center-backs booked within the first 45 minutes.

Kreis’ men, however, came of the blocks fast in the 2nd half, having brought on talismanic playmaker Javier Morales. They were quickly rewarded, as referee saw a handball in the box from defender Mario de Luna following a Plata flick-on. Saborio converted from the spot to give RSL the lead in the 49th minute.

Chivas’ woes were compounded in the 52nd minute  when Joao Plata found himself at the end of a loose ball following good RSL play in the Chivas’ third. The forward’s neatly placed finish past Meila gave RSL a two-goal cushion.

Midfielder Ned Gravaboy could have easily had a third for RSL in the 55th, when he found himself in a one-on-one with Meila after he found himself at the end of a Morales ball.  The Chivas keeper, however, made the save.

In the 67th minute, Gravaboy found himself with a more difficult chance when he was on the receiving end of a low cross from Tony Beltran. The angle was too tight, however, and his shot went wide.

Chivas barely mounted a clear-cut opportunity in the second half and in fact, it was the home team with the more decisive chances in the latter stages. Robbie Findley, on for Plata, forced another save from Meila from the edge of the box in the 71st. This was soon followed by a goal-mouth scramble following a Chris Schuler header from a corner, but desperate defending prevented an RSL goal.

It appeared RSL would cruise to the final whistle,  but Chivas did manage to bring some life back in the game in the 77th minute.  Substitute Julio Morales caught the RSL backline off-guard and found himself at the end of a Carlos Chueca ball. The forward‘s intelligent finish pulled one back for away side.

The closing few minutes were a bit more nervy than RSL would have anticipated, but the home side held on to their one goal lead. The win guarantees RSL a top-two seed, playing their road and home games in the Conference Semis on Nov 2/3 and Nov 6/7. The result also gives RSL hopes of winning the Supporters’ Shield, as they would be hoping the other contenders slip up this weekend.

Ironically, it is Chivas USA who could be helping the RSL cause as they take on Portland Timbers.  Anything less than a win for Chivas would ensure top spot for RSL in the West.

 

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DC United Upset RSL to become USOC Champions

Posted on 02 October 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

DC United clinched the Third Lamar Hunt US Open Championship after they defeated Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium on October 1. The only goal of the game came at stroke of half time from united midfielder Lewis Neal.

Ben Olsen’s team were the overwhelming underdogs going into the tie, at the bottom of MLS Eastern Conference and facing a formidable RSL side challenging for the Supporter’s Shield and top of the Western Conference. They could, however, take comfort from the fact that they did beat RSL in regular MLS season earlier in March. Real Salt Lake also had a poor 0-2 record of finals held in Rio Tinto prior to the game.

RSL predictably enjoyed early possession in the first half, but DC were compact with two banks of four behind the ball in their own third. The best RSL chance of the half came to Joao Plata in the 27th minute after a threaded ball from Sebastian Velasquez found the forward with a tight angle on goal. Plata’s rushed shot went wide.

The  game became physical early in the half when Lewis Neal lunged in on young RSL center-back Carlos Salcedo. The animosity between the teams continued throughout the game, marked by several verbal and physical confrontations and several disciplinary cautions throughout the game.

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DC United’s discipline and industry paid off in the 45th minute when a John Thorrington cross from the left flank bounced off Salcedo and fell kindly for Neal. The DC midfielder precisely slotted the ball home with left foot.

RSL came into the second half with a more direct approach and greater tempo and attacking urgency.  Midfielder Ned Gravaboy forced a save out of Bill Hamid in the 52nd minute,  followed by a left-footer from Velasquez hitting the top bar from the edge of the box.

As the half wore on, RSL continued to overload the box as DC dropped deep into their own half. The final quarter saw Jason Kres’ men creating a barrage of goalmouth opportunities, including a header from Nat Borchers, a close range effort from Alvaro Saborio and an overhead kick from Devon Sandoval. DC failed to find a consistent outlet as RSL thumped long balls into the opponent half, without finding a telling finish.

The final minutes of second-half injury time summed up the night for RSL, as the ball hit the post again after several touches in the box. Agonizingly close, but not enough for claret and cobalt.

RSL would feel disappointed at the outcome, but must focus on the regular season as they challenge for the Supporters’ Shield and the MLS come. DC United would feel like they have accomplished the improbable, completing the underdog journey to glory.

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RSL stunned by Quakes at home

Posted on 22 September 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

San Jose Earthquakes (11-11-8) shocked Real Salt Lake (14-10-6) with a 2-1 win at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday. All three goals came in a frantic three-minute period in the first half with Steven Lenhart scoring a brace and Javier Morales on the score-sheet for the home side.

The night started promisingly for RSL as they looked to get back on track after a disappointing loss against Sounders last week.  Kyle Beckerman and Joao plata both tried from long range early on following good home possession that RSL enjoy.

However, it was the visitors who broke the deadlock in the 18th minute after the Quakes’ midfield moved the ball quickly in a wide position to winger Cordell Cato. The winger’s cross was met by Steven Lenhart’s header in the box after his well-timed run escaped defender Nat Borchers.

RSL responded within a minute, after a Joao Plata corner found an unmarked Morales in the box. The Argentine had plenty of time to calmly slot the ball in the back of the net.

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San Jose only took a minute to expose RSL’s own defensive fragility from set-piece, after a  Shea Salinas free-kick was  headed in again by Steven Lenhart. The forward found sufficient space within the RSL defense and  coach Jason Kreis would be disappointed that the Quakes’ target-man was so frequently left unchallenged aerially.

RSL’s woes could have been compounded in the 41st minute when San Jose skipper Chris Wondolowski tried to poach from a long throw. Luckily for the home team, his effort went over.

Wondolowski had another opportunity at the other side of the half, after a deep cross from full-back Jordan Steward found the Quakes’ forward in the box. The header was tipped over by keeper Nick Rimando.

RSL enjoyed about 70% possession in the game, but were a bit disjointed in the final third. The best chances in the second half came to Ned Gravaboy, whose 72nd minute shot on goal was blocked by the San Jose defense and to substitute Robbie Findley, whose left footer following a perfectly weighted Morales pass could only find the side-netting.

The Earthquakes had several threatening counter-attacks in the second half and could have been ahead in the 68th minute through midfielder Baca. His effort, however, was weak and never troubled Rimando.

Nonetheless, San Jose coach Mark Watson would be happy with a win, watching his side have the best of the chances and greater decisiveness in front of goal. The Earthquakes keep their playoff hopes alive as they welcome Chivas at home on September 29. The loss was a blow for Real Salt Lake as they would sense a missed opportunity to go top of the Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield, particularly after Sounders dropped points in LA.

 

 

 

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Sounders overtake RSL with comfortable win

Posted on 14 September 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

Seattle Sounders continued their good form to cruise past Real Salt Lake at Centurylink Stadium in a crucial top-of-the-table clash on Saturday, overthrowing their rivals to secure top spot of Western Conference and the Supporters’ Shield. The goals both came in the first half from forwards Obafemi Martins and Lamar Neagle.

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The RSL were coming into the game after a two-week layoff, although they had starters Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman out on international duty. Clint Dempsey and Eddie Johnson were coming off the bench for Sounders after their midweek exploits for USMNT against Mexico.

Seattle Sounders started the game with a high-tempo and caught RSL off-guard as early as the 3rd minute. A neat flick by Obafemi Martins released Andy Rose down the byline. Rose’s cross was capped with a fine finish by Martins in the box.

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Sounders could have been two up from a set-piece within 7 minutes after kick-off, but RSL keeper Nick Rimando made the save to keep RSL in the game.

RSL appeared to respond positively after the initial jolt and had a legit claim for a PK in the 18th minute when playmaker Javier Morales was tripped by Oswaldo Alonso in the box. The referee, however, waved play on.

The game continued to be open – RSL making quick passes and getting Plata and Findley in advanced, wide positions and Sounders countering with pace down the flanks.

Soon it was the Seattle side who grabbed the second goal of the game. DeAndre Yedlin found himself in acres of space down the right hand side and the full-back took full advantage to drive deep into the RSL half. The low-cross was finished by Lamar Naegle in the 38th minute.

The half-time ended 2-0 to the home team, leaving Kreis men with a mountain to climb in front of a raucous home crowd. Jason Kreis brought on Olmes Garcia to start the second half, switching to a more adventurous 4-3-3.

It was home team, however, who had the greater forward momentum and could have put the game beyond RSL’s reach within a few minutes of the restart. Lamar Naegle beat the offside trap to find himself in a one-on-one with Rimando in the 54th minute, but the RSL keeper’s reflexes again prevented further damage for the visitors. Martins’ pace was always a threat for RSL’s high backline and the Nigerian twice found himself at the end of a long pass. On either occasion, he failed to pull the trigger before the RSL defense could clear their lines.

Clint Dempsey, coming on as a substitute and still looking for his first goal in a Sounders’ shirt, had a good opportunity to add to the tally. His goal-bound strike following a set-piece in the 83rd minute was blocked by Kyle Beckerman.

RSL never posed a serious threat in the second half and their only effort of note was a glancing header by Nat Borchers from a Morales set-piece. The away team claimed the ball had crossed the goal-line before being grasped by Seattle keeper Gspurring, but the replays seemed inconclusive.

With a strong home form and a five-game winning streak, Sounders look in pole position to clinch the Supporters’ Shield as they take on LA Galaxy at StubHub Center on September 21. RSL are still in the chase with only a point behind as they welcome San Jose Earthquakes at home on the same day.

 

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Chicago Immolate In Seattle

Posted on 08 September 2013 by Kyle Alm

Sounders run of good form continued in Seattle against Chicago on Saturday night. Obafemi Martins returned to the starting lineup with an ankle injury sustained against Toronto nearly a month ago. Martins wasted no time in the early going, three good opportunities pressing forward in the box in the first three minutes. The Nigerian had nothing to show from his efforts and didn’t truly test Fire goal keeper Sean Johnson.

Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 over Chicago Fire

When you negate a few chances, or don’t take advantage fo their chances they come down and score.
-Sigi Schmid

It would be Mike Magee who found space at the top of the penalty box, held onside by Djimi Traore and a quick pass from Dilly Duka. Magee finished neatly past Michael Gspurning and tied Marco Di Vaio for the lead for the Golden Boot in the 25th minute.

Sounders had a chance to equalize with a penalty kick in the  29th minute. Gonzalo Segares had his hand above his head left Referee Hilario Grajeda little choice but to award the penalty due to the unnatural hand position of the Fire defender. Osvaldo Alonso tried to beat Johnson to his right but came up short as the ball was pushed wide of the net and acros the endline.

It would be Lamar Neagle who equalized for the home side in the 40th minute on a cross from Marc Burch. Neagle increased his career-high season goal scoring tally to 7. Marc Burch continues to impress from the left midfield and collected his third assist.

Mike Magee suffered an injury in the first half that didn’t precluded his participation in the second half. Juan Luis Anangogo took Magee’s place at forward.

The 1-1 deadlock continued through the entire second half. Both sides took a some speculative chances. Osvaldo Alonso and Segares had some words with each other. Johnson had to make a couple of saves for Chicago, but the valiant effort of the Fire defense would come unraveled from an unlikely source in the 89th minute.

Marc Burch had been subbed off in favor Zach Scott in the 82nd, which allowed Leo Gonzalez to get forward while Djimi Traore, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, and Scott made up the backline. A surprising move from Sigi Schmid, who is typically more conservative with his substitutions, clearly motivated to get all three points at home. Scott made a long run with the ball down the left flank that had Chicago scrambling for cover. Scott played a simple ball right to the top of the six-yard box and Segares knocked it right into his own goal as he attempted to recover his position.

It was only the second time all season that Sounders had won after conceding the first goal and the first loss for Chicago after drawing first blood.

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RSL stretch lead with vital win

Posted on 31 August 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

Real Salt Lake secured a crucial 4-2 win over Conference rivals Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night. Luis Gil, Joao Plata, Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio scored for the home side, while Darlington Nagbe and Sal Zizzo registered for the visitors.

RSL were coming into the game after a resounding 4-0 thumping of Columbus Crew at home last Saturday. The hosts would also have the psychological edge, having secured a 3-3 draw against Timbers in injury time with 10 men the last time the teams played each other at Jan-Weld Stadium.

 

The hosts were welcoming back forward Alvaro Saborio into the starting lineup. Timbers midfielder, Will Johnson, however, couldn’t take on his former teammates, following an injury against the same opponents in the US Open Cup semi.

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RSL picked up where they left off against Crew when Luis Gil scored early in the 9th minute. Joao Plata flicked on from a Kyle Beckerman pass to set up an umarked Gil. The midfielder finished neatly past keeper Donovan Ricketts.

The hosts soon scored a decisive second in the 15th minute when  the lively Plata picked up the ball from Gravaboy and dribbled past defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste. The shot on goal was still from an acute angle, but Plata’s well placed left-footer beat Ricketts at the far post.

The Portland sides pulled one back in the 32nd minute, after defender Michael Harrington pick-pocketed an RSL ball in his own half and drove into the heart of Real defense. Forward Darlington Nagbe picked up the ball and the forward’s well-struck shot from outside the box beat Rimando.

Immediately following the goal, Timbers’ coach Caleb Porter brought on Alvas Powell for injured playmaker Diego Valeri to switch from 3-4-3 to a more pragmatic  4-3-3.

The temperature picked up in the 43rd minute when a physical confrontation followed after Ned Gravaboy was fouled outside the Timbers’ box. The melee resulted in a yellow each for Joao Plata and Timbers’ defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste.

The bitter nature of the game hadn’t died down as Timbers’ midfielder Ben Zemanski was sent off just at the stroke of half-time. Zemanski plunged in with a two-footed challenge on Gravaboy and received his marching orders.

Zemanski’s challenge wasn’t clean by any means, but whether if it was deserving of a straight red is up for debate.

 

With a man advantage, RSL restored the two-goal cushion with a brilliant overhead kick in the 56th minute following a Beckerman corner. The midfielder surprisingly found himself with plenty of space in the box in a set-piece, but still had to show skill and composure to find the net.

The goal-frenzy continued when forward Alvaro Savorio continued on his prolific record against Portland Timbers with a header from a Morales free-kick. The 10 men Portland side had been ragged in defense in the second half and would be disappointed to concede a second goal from a set-piece situation.

Portland Timbers did see a glimmer of hope when Sal Zizzo pounced on a rebound in the 77th minute after Jose Valencia saw his long-range effort saved from Real keeper Nick Rimando. However, it was too little too late for the Caleb Porters’men.

RSL stretch their lead to a sizeable eight points over nearest Conference rivals LA Galaxy, although the Los Angeles outfit has three games in hand. Despite the loss, Portland Timbers are still in a playoff position, but would want to turn the corner soon at this crunch stage following back-to-back losses against RSL and Sounders.

 

 

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Timbers Fall Short in Seattle

Posted on 26 August 2013 by Kyle Alm

Sounders were able to inch up the table Sunday night in front of a(nother) record setting crowd in Seattle. The fact that it came at the expense of their I-5 rivals, Portland Timbers made it all that much sweeter.

Portland fans, recently made aware of the finer points of MLS player acquisition, had high hopes of coming up and spoiling Clint Dempsey’s home debut in front of 67,000+ fans. Motivation was increased but Timbers were dealing with a short-handed roster, midfield stalwart Diego Chara was suspended with yellow card accumulation and Will Johnson still not fit to play. Seattle alternatively are adding key players back to their lineup with the exception of Obafemi Martins who’s ankle injury suffered in Toronto precluded his involvement in the Cascadia derby.

Although the first half went without a save being recorded for either Donovan Ricketts or Michael Gspurning, there were more than a few good scoring chances for both sides. Gspurning shut down a 1v1 with Ryan Johnson that wasn’t counted as a save and Diego Valeri hit the post on a dead ball that didn’t count as a shot on goal.

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Gspurning could have easily seen his MOTM status disappear had those two opportunities turned out differently. Despite the alternate history version of those two plays Gspurning was solid all night. His Portland counterpart, Donovan ‘Rebound’ Ricketts, was not nearly as dependable.

The match stayed level until after Mauro Rosales came on for Shalrie Joseph in the 56th minute. Rosales, the Sounders captain, hasn’t turned in the season that anyone has expected and failed to put an excellent opportunity in Houston on frame. He found himself on the bench to start the derby.

Portland defender Po Amadou Kah, victimized by a poor clearance on Wednesday that cost his team two points once again provided his opponent a winning opportunity after a foul on Eddie Johnson that earned a caution in the 59th minute. Kah went in airborn with both feet and missed the ball and brought down Johnson halfway between the left touch line and edge of the penalty box. Mauro Rosales demonstrated his skill and worth with the winning assist to Eddie Johnson who redirected the cross with his head to the far post for a goal in front of the Brougham end.

When Timbers were able to create chances they were unable to beat Gspurning, who always seemed to anticpate the proper positioning to make effortless saves in the second half.

Although Dempsey didn’t make his impact felt on the stat sheet, failed to put a shot on goal, suffered four fouls (and at least two more), he did show some quick feet and clever passing. Overall, it seems like he’s still adjusting to his teammates and gaining fitness.

 

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RSL punish woeful Crew

Posted on 25 August 2013 by Aowabin Rahman

 

Real Salt Lake (13-8-6) crushed Columbus Crew (8-12-5 ) 4-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Skipper Kyle Beckerman scored a brace, while Devon Sandoval and Luis Gil scored a goal each.

RSL were coming into the game with an indifferent form with only a solitary win in the last six league games, despite their top position in the Western Conference. The hosts, however, would take heart from their midweek performance, trailing with 10 men and coming back with a late Cole Grossman leveler.  RSL were also boosted by the return of Nick Rimando and skipper Kyle Beckerman, who had missed the last game due to illness and suspension respectively.

Columbus Crew was coming on the back of two wins, having defeated Toronto FC 2-0 with a brace from  captain Federico Higuain. Crew also have a historically good record against RSL – 10-4-1 in the regular season prior to the match.

The first chance came to the Claret and Cobalt, as an RSL break-away found Chris Wingert  in space. The left-back cut back for forward Olmes Garcia, whose shot was crucially cleared by the Crew defense, with their goalkeeper Matt Lampson off-position.

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This set the pace for the first quarter, with RSL looking to win the ball high up the pitch and releasing the forwards quickly.  Crew, on the other hand, countered from deep within their own half and tested the RSL full-backs down the channels.  As the half wore on, the home team saw much lengthier spells on possession without much to show for in the scoresheet. Between 32nd to 35th minute, the home team notched up two free-kicks and three back-to-back corners. The closest they came to scoring from these set-pieces was a glancing header from Garcia from a Morales FK, which went wide after a Crew touch.

 

The only Crew chance of the half came in the 37th minute after Ned Gravaboy gave the ball away in midfield and Dominic Odura found Federico Higuain in the box. The forward’s shot from a very tight angle tested keeper Rimando but the rebound was cleared away by RSL defense.

The home team finally broke the deadlock in first-half stoppage time as a Javier Morales free-kick got a fortuitous touch from Kyle Beckerman in the box.  The deflection defeated a wrong-footed Matt Lampson.

RSL maintained the tempo and extended their lead in the 51st minute after winning the ball in midfield and releasing Garcia in the right-hand side. The forward’s low-cross found his strike partner Devon Sandoval, who made no mistake from close range.

The floodgates soon opened following the goal, as Devon Sandoval and Kyle Beckerman found themselves on promising positions on two separate occasions. Sandoval’s header went over the bar, whereas the captain’s chipped cross fell tamely to keeper Lampson. The Crew, on the other hand, gave the ball away cheaply on numerous occasions, as their build-up play lacked any conviction or momentum.

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The hosts soon piled on the misery for the visitors in the 83rd minute with a brilliantly crafted goal from Luis Gil. Midfielder Ned Gravaboy managed to thread a ball through a narrow and crowded attacking third and Gil made space for himself to neatly finish past Lampson.

The final blow came in the 89th minute when a Velasquez cross from the left wing dropped nicely for skipper Kyle Beckerman. The midfielder netted in the team’s fourth with a well-timed strike, capping off a very convincing performance from Kreis’ men.

The disastrous night for the team in black and gold continued as Columbus Crew skipper Higuain was sent off following his second yellow just before the final whistle.

Real Salt Lake notches up 45 points with the win, as they lead the Western Conference and the overall standings heading into an important hme tie against Portland Timbers. Columbus Crew languishes with 29 points as they host at Columbus Crew stadium on August 31.

RSL XI: Rimando, Beltran, Salcedo, Borchers, Wingert; Beckerman, Grabavoy (Grossman 87’), Gil, Morales; Sandoval (Velasquez 81’), Garcia (Findley 62’).

Crew XI: Lampson; Barson, Marshall, Williams, Viana; Oduro, O’Rourke (Tchani 62’), Trapp, Speas (Finley 73’); Higuaín, Arrieta (Warzycha 62’)

 

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