By TYLER GRAY
SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake scored four goals in back-to-back games for the first time in club history and cruised to a 4-2 victory over the visiting Portland Timbers.
RSL got goals from all over the place with Joao Plata, Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales and Luis Gil each putting a ball into the back of the net. Plata was especially dangerous, adding two assists on top of his goal.
RSL came out screaming from the opening whistle and got the match’s first goal through a brilliant sequence in just the ninth minute.
Midfielder Kyle Beckerman played an entry pass to Joao Plata who flicked the ball into space in the penalty box. Luis Gil ran onto the ball and blasted a shot just inside the far post.
Plata would be the Timbers undoing again just six minutes later when a piece of individual brilliance unlocked the visitors’ backline.
The Ecuadorian forward received the ball just inside the penalty box, showcased a stepover, then blew past Portland defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste and lashed a shot off the far post and in.
Portland would pull a goal back in the 32nd minute through the feet of midfielder Darlington Nagbe when RSL was lazy in closing him down at the top of the box. The former Akron player decided to take a shot and Rimando’s touch wasn’t strong enough to keep it out of the net.
Momentum would swing dramatically back to the home side when, in the 47th minute, Portland midfielder Ben Zemanski slid into Ned Grabavoy with his leg raised and was shown a red card.
Morales notched RSL’s third goal in spectacular fashion in the 56th minute. RSL’s midfield catalyst got a poor initial touch to Plata’s corner kick but was able to execute a beautiful bicycle to put the ball in the net.
“It was a perfect corner kick from Plata,” said Morales “I think my first touch wasn’t good. So the ball goes up and Sabo told me, ‘Leave it! Leave it!’ but I was there and I was thinking to do the bicycle and lucky for me I scored.”
Saborio put the game away in his usual fashion, scoring the fourth goal for the home side when he put a header into the back of the net in the 67th minute.
The Timbers would pick up a second goal in 78th minute when Jose Valencia’s strike rebounded to Sal Zizzo who easily slotted the ball home but it was obvious that the game was too far out of reach.
Head coach Jason Kreis praised his players for putting their chances away and explained that finishing was the difference tonight.
“When the ball is on somebody’s foot in the box, they were clinical,” Kreis said. “For me, that’s oftentimes the difference between the absolute best teams and some of the mediocre ones. What happens in and around the box is typically clinical with the best teams. Tonight, those first two opportunities, Gil’s shot and Plata’s shot, were fantastic.”
Grabavoy echoed his coach’s sentiments and summed it nicely when he explained that RSL is just on fire.
“I think we’re just on right now,” Grabavoy said. “We’re finishing our chances. If you look at the first two goals, two just very clinical finishes; low to the back post. Javier scores a wonder goal and Sabo does what he usually does, just put it up there and he’s gonna head it into the goal.”
RSL now have a bye week, getting a chance to rest some tired bodies before they travel to face Seattle in two weeks time.
Here are the match highlights: