The Portland Timbers (7-15-8, 29 points) couldn’t stop Real Salt Lake’s (15-11-4, 49 points) set piece offense as Javier Morales had a hand (one goal and one assist) in both goals to keep the Timbers winless on the road. After a poor first half display, the Timbers outplayed their opponent in the second half thanks to a spark off the bench from Bright Dike, whose goal in the 61st minute made it 2-1. Dike almost got the equalizer late but his header off of another beautiful Sal Zizzo cross clanged off the crossbar. Real Salt Lake closed out the match in style, keeping possession for almost the entire three minutes of stoppage time.
Three quick thoughts on the match:
1.) The Timbers defensive awareness is incredibly poor.
How many times have we seen a silly foul in the final third lead to a set piece goal for the Timbers opponents? At some point in the offseason, I’m going to attempt to answer that very question by viewing all the Timbers matches from this season. The Timbers once again gift-wrapped two goals for their opponent with a dumb foul in the final third and stupid mistakes in set piece defense. The first goal was a direct result of an error by the defensive wall. For the second, Javier Morales’ set piece goal was an absolute beauty, but the Timbers should be aware and know that if you commit a foul so deep in the final third, he’s capable of doing that every time he steps up to take a direct free kick. Once again an opponent was able to use the Timbers match as a springboard for ending their own struggles as goals for RSL have been difficult to come by from anyone other than the injured Alvaro Saborio.
That’s the Timbers record on the road in MLS. There’s no way owner Merritt Paulson can sugarcoat that is there? I’m also a bit baffled by some of the post-match quotes from Gavin Wilkinson:
* “We are maturing as a team. The last time we were here we lost 3-0 and I don’t think we even had a shot. I think the performance tonight was a lot, lot better.”
* “I would like to do a little more in the final third. I think that comes with maturity. I think the possession stance of this team has changed dramatically from what they were. We look a lot more comfortable with the ball, but results are what it takes.”
I highlighted the words above because if that’s becoming the benchmark for success for this team rather than points, that’s a problem.
My question: if the other 18 teams in MLS had a similar streak would their coach and general manager survive such futility and still have a job?
3.) Some positives.
Franck Songo’o and Sal Zizzo had fantastic matches again for the Timbers and truly justify their starts and increased playing time. Bright Dike got his third goal of the season and was a fantastic spark off the bench. I’ve always fancied Dike coming off the bench for that exact reason and even if he’s not starting, I think Dike can be a positive contributor for the Timbers if used in that manner.
That’s it for now. Once I get to view the match again, I’ll have some more. I also hope to have a post up this week about Kris Boyd. Check out the match stats and highlights below.
Portland Timbers (7-15-8, 29pts) at Real Salt Lake (15-11-4, 49pts)
Sept. 22, 2012 – Rio Tinto Stadium
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Portland Timbers 0 1 1
Real Salt Lake 2 0 2
RSL: Espindola (Morales), 14
RSL: Morales, 36
POR: Dike (Zizzo), 61
RSL: Olave (Caution), 81
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Bendik, D Kimura (Alexander, 67), D Mosquera, D Horst, D Smith (Dike, 46), M Nagbe, M Jewsbury ©, M Wallace, F Zizzo, F Mwanga, F Songo’o (Alhassan, 82)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Angevine, D Brunner, D Danso, F Fucito
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Dike, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Dike, Wallace, 2); FOULS: 8 (Jewsbury, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 6; SAVES: 3
RSL: GK Rimando, D Beltran, D Olave, D Borchers, D Wingert, M Beckerman ©, M Grabavoy, M Johnson, M Morales (Gil, 90+2), F Espindola (Alvarez, 83), F Araujo (Bonfigli, 67)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Reynish, D Schuler, M Steele, F Mansally
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Espindola, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 5 (Espindola, 4); FOULS: 9 (Johnson, 3); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 8; SAVES: 4
Referee: Kevin Stott
Assistant Referees: Corey Parker, Jason Cullum
4th Official: Allen Chapman
Time of Game: 1:49
Weather: Sunny, 86 degrees