PORTLAND (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake has plenty of scoring chances to pull out a result on the road, but could not convert, as the Portland Timbers held on for a 1-0 victory Saturday night.
Diego Valeri scored the only goal of the game in the 16th minute as RSL fell into a tie for third place in the Western Conference.
“We deserved something out of this game,” said RSL interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “At minimum we deserved a tie. That’s just how games go. We created more than enough chances, and more than enough good looks, and just didn’t score. And that’s the way games sometimes go.”
RSL (13-11-4) had won four of its last five games and was coming off a 2-0 victory over Colorado last weekend, but stayed winless in the Portland over the last two seasons.
RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando dove but couldn’t reach Valeri’s blast from the top of the box. After his goal, Valeri blew a kiss to fans in the stands who waved the flag of his native Argentina. It was Valeri’s eighth goal of the season. He also has 15 assists.
“He was taking the ball down the field and it put us in a tough position because me and Nedum [Onuoha] both had runners off our shoulders so we couldn’t quite step to him and he hit it perfectly,” said RSL defender Justen Glad. “He struck it nicely and it was a great goal.”
“We are feeling good,” Valeri said. “Today we all helped to win the game. We had a lot of sacrifice and that’s why we are happy.”
There was a scary moment in the 75th minute when Jeremy Ebobisse collided with Rimando, who had to be attended to by trainers but stayed in the game. Just minutes earlier, Rimando had bumped away a shot from Brian Fernandez, Portland’s top scorer.
Portland’s Renzo Zambrano was shown a red card in stoppage time after a heated exchange with the referee, but Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark dove to stop Albert Rusnack’s dangerous free kick from the top of the box. Aaron Herrera’s rebound shot sailed high over the goal.
“I’m more than pleased with the second half performance,” Juarez said. “Like I said, the stats show we came to play tonight. We didn’t sit back but controlled the game. We had a good defensive block and shape with commitment to it. We created the chances but needed the patience to finish the chances. Maybe we needed a little bit more composure. If the last shot Aaron has goes in, then it ends up differently. We’re not happy with the result but we’re happy with the commitment.”
Real Salt Lake had 17 shots on goal, including 6 on frame, but could not convert.
RSL now heads into the international break, and will next host San Jose on September 11th.