PORTLAND (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake finally scored its first goal on this three-game road trip, but it wasn’t enough in a 3-2 loss to the Portland Timbers.
After a scoreless draw against Houston and a 1-0 loss against the LA Galaxy, RSL was looking to get on the scoreboard at Portland and keep themselves in the final playoff position at the halfway point of the season.
“I thought today the guys definitely deserved more, it was unbelievable,” said head coach Freddy Juarez. “The whole week we have been in there scrapping. There have been very good moments and some not so good moments, but I thought we ended the three-game road trip with a lot of energy and commitment. If you look at the stats you could say we dominated the game, but leaving the stats aside the feeling of the game was that it was coming. It was just a couple of plays.”
After a 7th minute handball in the penalty box by Toni Datkovic in his RSL debut, Dairon Asprilla stepped up to the spot and drilled home a penalty kick past Zac MacMath to give Portland the 1-0 lead.
Portland doubled its lead in the 29th minute on a counter attack, as Dairon Asprilla dropped a back heel pass to Yimmi Chara, who rocketed a shot past MacMath to make it 2-0.
RSL fought back, and in the 40th minute scored its first goal in three games, as Albert Rusnak found some space and beat Aljaz Ivacic at the near post for his fourth goal of the year to cut the Portland lead in half.
In the second half, RSL had some chances early, but couldn’t put anything away. The Timbers took advantage of its opportunity after substitute Sebastian Blanco played Felipe Mora in on goal and he restored the two-goal Timber lead.
In the 80th minute, RSL gave themselves a shot to get a point at Portland. Pablo Ruiz found Damir Kreilach at the top of the penalty box and the MLS all-star hammered a shot past Ivacic to make it 3-2. The goal was Kreilach’s team-leading eighth of the season.
RSL fought hard the last 10 minutes and in stoppage time, and Kreilach had the best chance off a long ball from Aaron Herrera, but Kreilach’s header was pushed aside by Ivacic and RSL failed to get a point on the road trip.
“It’s so frustrating that the first 30 minutes we didn’t come into the game very well, but still we found a way to score a goal,” Kreilach said. “Albert scored a great goal to go 2-1 and then after that it was just one team on the field, especially in the second half. The way we fought, the way our mentality was great, the way we created chances was perfect. If you have 23 shots on the goal and you don’t take a point, of course it is frustrating. But we have to keep going and stay positive. We have to take from this game positive things and see where we had mistakes.”
RSL had nine shots on goal and 14 corner kicks, but Ivavic made seven saves to record the victory for Portland.
“I think it’s normal that they went 2-0 up and dropped off,” said Rusnak. “They aren’t going to throw numbers forward to attack and get three or four, it’s all about the three points. We got on top of them, we created very good chances. We were dangerous and we got shots, everything except the result, again.”
Real Salt Lake (5-6-6) drops below the playoff line in the Western Conference. RSL will return home August 14th to host expansion squad Austin FC at Rio Tinto Stadium.