PORTLAND – Though they took 26 shots, earned 17 corner kicks and had the ball for most of the second half on Saturday, the Portland Timbers appeared headed for a loss against a determined Real Salt Lake side.
But the Timbers have become one of the most productive teams in Major League Soccer late in matches, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that they found a way to salvage a 2-2 tie at Providence Park.
Fanendo Adi scored two late goals to rally Portland from two goals down in a match that saw RSL finish with nine players. Adi’s goals came in the 79th and 84th minute and the Timbers created several of their best chances after tying the score.
“We did an incredible job of putting pressure on them. I thought that overall defensively we were really good and sharp and offensively we created chances,” Timbers defender Nat Borchers said.
Borchers blamed himself for that effort not earning the Timbers a win. Real Salt Lake’s second goal, in the 58th minute, came when Borchers mishit a header at midfield, allowing Yura Movsisyan to break away.
“I made a decision to head it back in the direction it came from. (Diego) Chara was wide open. It’s just a split-second decision and I should have done better,” Borchers said.
Adi, Diego Valeri and coach Caleb Porter all said the Timbers have to be better about converting the chances they are creating. And all three said they are confident that will happen sooner than later.
“I know we have the quality and the talent, and it is the toughest thing to do in this sport is score,” Porter said, adding that the Timbers will use their week off to fine tune the finishing.
In addition to scoring both goals, Adi drew the fouls that resulted in red cards for Kyle Beckerman and Jamison Olave – whose 83rd-minute foul led tothe tying penalty kick. In the 31st minute, Beckerman slid into Adi with both legs on a tackle try, sending Adi spilling to the turf.
The Timbers took pride in their ability to grab a draw against a Salt Lake side that sat back with a two-goal lead. RSL played with 10 men for the last hour
“They got two goals from almost nothing,” Valeri said. “Obviously with men down they just drop and defend. But we created enough to at least draw or maybe win the game.”
Joao Plata’s perfect free kick from 21 yards put RSL in front 1-0 in the 16th minute. He struck a ball that looped perfectly over the Timbers defensive wall, catching goalkeeper Adam Kwarasey leaning the wrong way. The goal was the third in as many games this season for Plata.
The free kick was earned when Chara fouled Juan Manuel Martinez. Chara initially won the ball from Martinez, but the RSL forward regained possession drew the foul when Chara tried to recover.
Portland has one win, one draw and one loss on the young season. Real Salt Lake has a win and two draws.
Down 2-0 with 30 minutes left, Porter put extra attackers onto the field in Jack McInerney and Ned Grabavoy. Adi pulled Portland within one when a Dairon Asprilla shot hit the crossbar and fell to Adi 6 yards in front of goal. Four minutes later, Olave was shown a red card for fouling Adi in the 18-yard box. Adi converted the penalty kick.
Moments later, McInerney nearly gave the Timbers a third goal, but Rimando’s right hand stopped a driven shot from the right side of the penalty area.
Porter said that Darlington Nagbe, who had to be helped to the locker room following a stoppage-time foul by Martinez, is fine. The coach said X-rays showed no injury and that he expects Nagbe won’t miss any time.
The best of Kwarasey’s two saves was a quick reaction with his right hand to block Movsisyan’s 35th-minute header from a Plata corner kick.
The Timbers thought they had struck 90 seconds into the match when Adi headed the ball home. But he was offside on the play.
Lineup notes: The Timbers went with the same starting XI as played at San Jose a week ago. Zarek Valentin got his second start at left back with Jermaine Taylor slotting next to Nat Borchers in place of injured Liam Ridgewell. Grabavoy and McInerney entered with 30 minutes left, replacing Valentin and Lucas Melano. Darren Mattocks made his Timbers debut as a 89th-minute substitute.
Up next: The Timbers are idle this week. They visit Orlando City on April 3. A visit to the L.A. Galaxy follows that before Portland is home again on April 13 to face FC Dallas.