Real Salt Lake’s strong performance helped them achieve the team’s solid victory against the Portland Timbers, ending the game 2-1. Rio Tinto Stadium was painted red with fans and RSL scored their two goals within the first 36 minutes.
Fabian Espindola scored the first goal on a free kick after a penalty call in the 14th minute. Espindola shot the ball through a cluster of Portland players into the top right corner of the goal without the goalkeeper even touching it.
After another penalty call against Portland, Javier Morales shot directly into the goal from outside the box putting RSL ahead by two at the half.
The second half was in Portland’s favor as the fatigue from traveling weighed heavily on the RSL players. Just four days prior, RSL played in Panama for the CONCACAF Championship and it seemed as if they ran out of gas towards the end of the game.
RSL coach Jason Kreiss expressed his concern for the players’ energy levels, but seemed pleased that RSL was able to get points early.
“I knew it was going t0 be difficult for us after a long flight from Panama on Wednesday,” Kries said. “I think it was critical that we scored early so we wouldn’t have to struggle in the end to get points.”
Although RSL got points in the first half, they struggled in the second half to keep possession and Portland player Bright Dike took control by heading in a goal past RSL’s defense in the 61st minute.
“There are a lot of positives to take home from the game,” Will Johnson, attacking midfielder for RSL, said. “But it was a little disappointing to let them back in the game after we played so well.”
Nick Rimando, RSL goalkeeper, also noticed the lack of energy.
“In the second half we were not as sharp and didn’t put our pedal to the metal like we wanted to,” Rimando said. “At the end of the day I think if we’re going to go along way in the playoffs we need to be sharp.”
The playoffs are only weeks away, which makes the next few games crucial for RSL as they battle for one of the top three positions in the Western Conference.
RSL has a week to prepare before they travel to California to play against the Los Angeles Chivas.