While the 4-2 loss to LA a few weeks back was a flat out nightmare, it also seemed to serve as a wake up call to Real Salt Lake. Since then, their offense has been on a tear. Eleven goals in the past three games. That’s an average of 3.6 goals a game. Crazy, right?
Their latest victims were the Portland Timbers, who they were playing for the third time this month. The previous two meeting resulted in a 2-1 win in the USOC semi-finals, and a thrilling come-from-behind 3-3 draw in stoppage time. Friday night ended up being a 4-2 win for RSL.
A great show was put on for the packed Rio Tinto Stadium as the scoring opened in the 9th minute. Kyle Beckerman one-touched the ball in to Plata who flicked it out to Luis Gil. Gil kept his finish low and controlled to beat Donovan Ricketts, and put RSL up 1-0.
The home team’s second goal came in just the 15th minute when Ned Grabavoy found Joao Plata. Plata’s speed proved to be too much for Andrew Jean-Baptiste as all 5’2″ of Joao powered past him and beat Ricketts to the far post.
Portland were able to pull one back, however. Darlington Nagbe wasn’t pressured early enough, and pulled the trigger from distance, and just barely putting it past Nick Rimando. It wasn’t the Timber’s night though. In stoppage time of the first half, Ben Zamanski had a bad studs-up challenge on Ned Grabavoy that gave the ref no choice but to give him a straight red card.
The best play of the night came in the 54th minute. Joao Plata took a perfect corner that found a completely unmarked Javier Morales in the box. Morales’ first touch wasn’t great, but what he did to make up for it was – a beautiful bicycle kick that stunned everyone in the stadium. You could watch that goal over and over and still not be sick of it.
They still weren’t done scoring. Saborio added a signature header from a Javier Morales free kick in the 67th minute to the goal pile. RSL have now scored 51 goals on the season. Wow. While Portland goat a consolation goal in the 78th minute, all it did was change RSL’s goal differential from +3 to +2.