SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake’s four-game winless streak is over after a hat trick from striker Álvaro Saborío powered them to a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Though they dominated possession throughout the game, RSL had to wait until the hour mark to get on the board despite several early chances. Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins did well to punch away a long-range drive from midfielder Will Johnson in the 19th minute, while defender Jámison Olave’s point-blank 35th minute header went over the crossbar.
The Timbers, meanwhile, looked dangerous on the counterattack, and nearly scored in the 33rd minute when Eric Alexander’s shot from outside the box deflected off Olave’s leg and just wide of Nick Rimando’s far post.
But RSL’s incisive passing paid off in the 60th minute. After collecting the ball outside the area, Kyle Beckerman floated a ball towards the penalty spot that Saborío rose up to meet and flick into the corner of Perkins’ net.
The Costa Rican's night only got better from there. Just two minutes later, Saborío got his second by heading in a cross from Chris Wingert.
With Portland down 2-0, things got testy in the 64th when RSL took issue with a Diego Chara tackle on Javier Morales, and the ensuing scuffle ended with yellow cards for Johnson, Chara and David Horst.
Chara was once again the center of the referee Mark Geiger’s attention in the 73rd minute after parrying Saborío’s header off the line with his left hand. The Colombian’s offense put the Timbers down to 10 men, and soon down 3-0 after Saborío fired home the penalty kick that followed.
The loss dropped Portland’s road record to 0-6-2 on the season and continued a scoreless run that has lasted five straight games away from home, but will return to JELD-WEN on July 14 to face the LA Galaxy.
RSL, on the other hand, have gotten off the schneid after suffering three straight losses from June 20-30. The Claret-and-Cobalt, now one point behind San Jose for the Western Conference lead, have a chance to vault into first place, also on July 14, when they face the Quakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
MLSsoccer.com Men of the Match
|Rank||Player||What We Saw|
|1||Álvaro Saborío||Tough not to give Man of the Match to a guy who scores a hat trick.|
|2||Javier Morales||RSL should be flattered by Portland's willingness to foul Morales in the second half - the Argentine was too much for the Timbers all night.|
|3||Will Johnson||On a night when RSL's midfield was at its devastating best, Johnson stood out. Made dangerous runs, completed incisive passes, and was generally dangerous out on the left.|