Portland Timbers 1, Real Salt Lake 0 | 2019 MLS Match Recap

The Portland Timbers narrowed the gap on the seventh Western Conference Audi 2019 MLS Cup Playoff slot, downing Real Salt Lake 1-0 on Saturday night at Providence Park.

The sole goal arrived in the 16th minute via Diego Valeri, who capitalized on a midfield turnover. With a touch and shot, Portland’s maestro unleashed a knuckling rocket past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.

Portland came close to doubling their lead in the 72nd minute, though Brian Fernandez’s header was pawed off the goal line by Rimando. Fernandez was set up by a Valeri chip to the back post.

RSL received a late lifeline, as Portland midfielder Renzo Zambrano was shown a straight red card in the 96th minute for putting his hands on head referee Nima Saghafi. Zambrano had fouled Nedum Onuoha, setting up a free kick from 19 yards for Albert Rusnak. But Timbers’ goalkeeper Steve Clark got low to deny a grass-cutter from Rusnak, preserving all three points.

RSL fell for the second time in three games, though nearly equalized in the 47th minute via Kelyn Rowe. The midfielder, traded midseason from Sporting Kansas City, unleashed a left-footed strike, only to be denied by Clark. The visitors also came close via Damir Kreilach, but were held off the scoreboard for the fourth time since July.

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Goals

  • 16' – POR – Diego Valeri | WATCH

Three Things

  • THE BIG PICTURE: Life can change quickly in this year’s Western Conference playoff race, as RSL dropped to third place and Portland moved to within two points of a postseason berth. When Saturday’s games wrapped up, only four points separated second and eighth place, so much is bound to change over the coming weeks. Buckle up, folks.
  • MOMENT OF THE MATCH: No beard, no problem for Diego Valeri. He scored in the second straight game, making it eight goals and 15 assists on the year. This one was struck so cleanly that it hardly moved, too.
  • MAN OF THE MATCH. As has become customary, Diego Chara was seemingly everywhere for Portland. He was making goal-denying challenges in his own 18-yard box, and then joining the attack a handful of seconds later. He’s 33 and showing few (if any) signs of slowing down.

Next Up

  • POR: Saturday, Sept. 7 vs. Sporting Kansas City (10:50 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada)
  • RSL: Wednesday, Sept. 11 vs. San Jose Earthquakes (9:30 pm ET | MLS LIVE on ESPN+ in US, on DAZN in Canada)

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