The Portland Timbers have a 5-2-2 record at home, but the club’s epic struggles on the road continued Saturday night with their second consecutive 3-0 loss away from JELD-WEN Field on the back of a hat trick by Real Salt Lake striker Álvaro Saborío.
After earning a massive 2-1 victory over the Seattle Sounders at home on June 24, Portland traveled to Dick’s Sporting Goods six days later and were thrashed by the Colorado Rapids. The Timbers entered Saturday’s match in Utah coming off a 2-1 win, as well, after beating the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday.
“It’s great when we’re at home, sure,” Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins said. “At some point, you have to draw the line and say enough is enough. Everyone’s got to say it, do it, believe it and whether or not we win at home doesn’t matter. At this point, we’ve got to win on the road.”
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL 3, POR 0
The Timbers were dominated in almost every measurable category, holding just less than 37 percent of possession while taking five shots, none of which were on target. Portland are now winless in eight games on the road this season, with six losses.
“It just wasn’t good,” Perkins said. “There were times we did what we wanted to do, and there were times when we completely had the blinders on. The first hour was OK. I felt the second half we were just chasing the game. We didn’t hold the ball up enough to get guys out and when we did we were too slow to get up.”
The one positive for the Timbers was their ability to keep the game scoreless at the half, keeping with the team’s admission leading up to the game that they would play more conservatively.
But while Portland provided no threat to score, RSL controlled possession and took aim at goalkeeper Troy Perkins’ net time after time. Salt Lake fired off 19 shots, nine on goal.
“When you have altitude in these places, Colorado and Salt Lake, you have to keep focus and keep your head in the game,” Timbers head coach John Spencer said. “You have to try to move the ball when you can. Obviously, you go 2-0 down in Salt Lake, it’s a tough place to play when it’s 0-0, let alone 2-0 down. Once they get the second goal, it’s almost over.”
But there is a silver lining in Portland’s very dark cloud – their next game, July 14 against the LA Galaxy, will be played at JELD-WEN.
“We can’t let it get to us,” Timbers defender David Horst said. “It’s going to happen; you’re going to have these during the season. We had a couple last year, every team has it. What makes a good team is being able to get yourself back up, pull yourself off the ground and go on to the next game. That’s what makes a good team.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.