Saturday, Aug. 7: Timbers 3, Real Salt Lake 2
The goals: Dairon Asprilla converted a penalty kick after a video review ruled a handball foul (1-0 Timbers, 10th minute).
Yimmi Chara scored at the end of a wonderful buildup, with Asprilla touching the ball to Chara for the shot from the top of the box (2-0 Timbers, 29th minute).
Albert Rusnak scored with a shot through traffic after a giveaway by Marvin Loria in the defensive third (2-1 Timbers, 40th minute).
Felipe Mora timed his run perfectly to stay onside and collect a ball from Sebastian Blanco and convert a spinning right-footed shot for his fourth goal in five games (3-1 Timbers, 62nd minute).
Damir Kreillach collected a direct ball from Pablo Ruiz with a soft touch and blasted his finish home (3-2 Timbers, 80th minute).
What it means: The Timbers are 7-8-2 (23 points) and, for all their lineup and other struggles, reach the halfway point in their MLS schedule above the playoff line in the Western Conference. RSL is 5-6-6 (21 points).
Takeaways: On a night the Timbers scored two of their best goals this season, it took a couple challenging reaction saves on Kreillach in the 67th minute and on Rusnak in the 95th minute from goalkeeper Aljaz Ivacic — in his first start at Providence Park — for Portland to survive and earn a much-needed win. The victory came without Portland's two strongest holding midfielders, with Diego Chara suspended from his Wednesday red card and Eryk Williamson unavailable because of MLS health and safety protocols, George Fochive and Cristhian Paredes stepped in. Fochive had a strong outing, though both holding midfielders played deep for long stretches, which made it difficult for the Timbers to maintain possession when RSL threw extra men into the attack. That was part of the reason RSL outshot Portland 23-13 (9-3 on goal) and had a 14-1 advantage on corner kicks.
Defending set pieces was a problem in several matches earlier this season, but Portland was strong in its own box in a match that eventually featured all four centerbacks. Larrys Mabiala and Zac McGraw came off the bench late to help Portland survive the Salt Lake push
Mora is the only healthy striker right now, following the trade of Jeremy Ebobisse. Fortunately, the Chilean is in form, with four goals in the last five games and six total in MLS play. … Blanco played the entire second half, an encouraging development as he works toward full fitness. … Portland took advantage of a soft penalty decision (the handball call came after video review). Asprilla, known for his powerful shot, instead calmly pushed the ball beyond the reach of goalkeeper Zac MacMath.
Portland's second goal came at the end of three one-touch passes on a play that started with right back Josecarlos Van Rankin dribbling into a dangerous area. The third goal featured a pin-point pass from Blanco and great balance and composure from Mora.
Up next: Seattle visits Portland for a 5:30 p.m. rivalry match on Sunday, Aug. 15.
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