PORTLAND (ABC 4 Sports) – In what was maybe the most tumultuous 72 hours in franchise history, Real Salt Lake pulled out one of its greatest comebacks, scoring two goals in the final five minutes to salve a 4-4 draw against Portland Saturday.
Sam Johnson capped off a furious Real Salt Lake rally in Saturday’s match against the Portland Timbers, scoring in the final minute of second-half stoppage time to give the visiting side a 4-4 draw with Portland on Saturday night.
“I felt people grabbing me and I didn’t know where it was coming from,” head coach Freddy Juarez said after the game-tying goal. ” It was good. It was needed from the team. It was nice to feel that team spirit. I’m happy for the guys. We came to a very good team – a team who knows how to win, knows how to stay in games. We had a chance to tie it 3-3 with Nedum’s and then they go right down and score to go up 4-2. The players never stopped and that was the mentality. “
Johnson’s goal came four minutes after Giuseppe Rossi made it a 4-3 game, and left the Timbers stunned after they seemingly had a victory in hand.
Corey Baird had a goal and two assists, including on Johnson’s goal just before the final whistle, and Damir Kreilach had a goal and assist for RSL.
“I just think it shows a lot of character,” Baird said. “To be two goals down when I think for the majority of, if not the entire game, we were the better team, can be really tough mentally. For us to keep going and not give up it shows the character everyone has. Credit to everyone out there on the field, we had to really put it in there to get that result.”
Felipe Mora, Sebastian Blanco, Jaroslaw Niezgoda and Diego Chara scored goals for the Portland Timbers, who still seek their first win since capturing the MLS is Back tournament title earlier in August.
Mora’s goal in the 85th minute seemed to seal it for the Timbers, as it was scored after Real Salt Lake’s Nedum Onuoha hit a post with a shot and gave the Timbers a 4-2 lead.
But Rossi, a former Italy national team star, made it closer, and Johnson capped off the comeback. Real Salt Lake got a draw, but has yet to beat Portland in five consecutive regular season matches.
The Timbers scored first when Chara intercepted a soft pass from out of the goal by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Andrew Putna in the sixth minute. Chara made a move around a defender and slotted home a short-range shot.
RSL has now scored eight goals in its last two games.
“It wasn’t long ago that you guys were asking why we were not creating chances and how we were gonna improve that,” said midfielder Albert Rusnak. “Now we have eight goals in the last two games and 30 shots today. So, there is a lot of positives to take out from tonight’s game.”
RSL (2-1-4) next hosts Seattle Wednesday at 7:30.
RSL responded with Baird’s 19th-minute goal, which came after the ball bounced around in front of the Portland goal and landed at Baird’s feet.
Portland made it 2-1 with Niezgoda heading in Diego Valeri‘s corner kick in the 21st minute, Niezgoda’s second of the season.
After halftime, Real Salt Lake evened the score again. Kreilach leaped for a martial arts-style kick of a high bounce off a corner kick.
Blanco, the MLS is Back Player of the Tournament, scored his second of the season.