PORTLAND, Ore.—Real Salt Lake may have given up a two-goal lead to depart Providence Park with a 2-2 draw Saturday night against the Portland Timbers.
Disappointing for the visitors, sure, but in many ways it was a draw that RSL were more than happy to come away with. Especially when taking into account all that was at play on the unseasonably warm evening in the Pacific Northwest. RSL had two players sent off and scored their second goal to go ahead 2-0 while playing a man down, all while in a hostile road environment.
“We talk about battling and sacrificing for each other and commitment level, and that was all there tonight,” said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. “Obviously continuing to move forward we have to make sure we’re working on our discipline and trying to keep 11 players on the field, but a point here at Providence Park is a good thing.”
RSL shocked the home side when Joao Plata curled in a free kick in the 16th minute and then again when Yura Movsisyan broke free and beat Timbers goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey in the 58th after captain Kyle Beckerman was sent off for a studs-up tackle on the half-hour mark. Then Jamison Olave was shown straight red for whacking Fanendo Adi in the face in the box, leading to the game-tying penalty in the 84th minute.
From that point, it was all hands on deck for RSL’s defense.
“The good thing for us is there’s areas to improve, and I’m excited about that,” Cassar said of his team’s two draws and a win to start the 2016 season.
It is, however, the second time RSL have been forced to settle for a draw after squandering a 2-0 lead while also having a man sent off. In their season opener, RSL scored two shorthanded goals to go up 2-0 on Orlando City SC before conceding two stoppage-time goals.
Cassar said the red cards have nothing to do with being dirty.
“I don’t think any of them were malicious,” he said. “I think they were quick decisions that were made … I don’t think any of them were dirty; I don’t think we’re that type of team at all. We’re trying to do the right things, and it’s not working out.”