Portland, Or – Tonight Real Salt Lake opened the 2015 MLS season at Providence Park vs the Portland Timbers. Neither team has been able to score when they meet at Portland’s home field the last two years regular MLS matches.
Both clubs made substantial moves in the off-season, the Timbers are now without DF Pa Modou Kah and GK Donavon Ricketts, but they where able to be the beneficiary of Real Salt Lake’s moves to free up money with the addition of RSL favorite DF Nat Borchers. RSL had a busy time with the loss of not only Borchers, but with the expansion draft losses of DF Chris Wingert and MF Ned Grabavoy to NYFC. Additional players out of RSL are DF Rich Balchan (option declined); FW Benji Lopez (option declined); MF Cole Grossman (out of contract); FW Robbie Findley (Re-Entry Stage 1 Draft); MF Sebastian Velasquez (traded to NYCFC); DF Carlos Salcedo (transfer to Guadalajara). The Claret and Cobalt shored up their defense by bring DF Jamison Olave back from New York Red Bulls, and by the acquisition of DF Boyd Okwuonu in the SuperDraft. Additional RSL acquired; MF Sebastian Saucedo (Homegrown); MF Wellington Paeckart (free); DF Phanuel Kavita (Homegrown); DF Demar Phillips (free); DF Aaron Maund (re-signed); DF Elias Vasquez (free).
Real Salt Lake showed a 4-3-3 formation after having a great deal of success in a diamond formation. Jeff Cassar said that this new formation allows better use of all of the new skills that the club has on hand. The new formation had a big impact on the speed of the game, making for exciting play, however the play was not as clean as we are used to seeing from RSL, particularly in the midfield.
The numbers for the first half didn’t really tell the story of what was happening on the pitch. The RSL defense was pretty solid, this helped to make up for some sloppy play in the midfield. Real Salt Lake had possession for over 60% of the half, but they had problems getting the ball into the attacking half of the pitch. It could be the new formation, or conditioning, and the turf was definitely a factor, but the biggest change from previous years was the speed of the game. It will be interesting to see if they can keep it up for the next 45 minutes.
Portland was able to take six shots to RSL taking 3, and only Portland was on target with two of their shots. Nick Rimando showed that he is still at the top of his game with two saves. Even though the score was 0-0 at the end of the half, RSL has to be careful in the second half with Mansally getting a yellow card in the 27′ and Luis Gil getting another in stoppage time. Alvas Powell was given a yellow card in the 32′ for persistent infringement.
The second half picked up right where the first left off. Very physical with RSL having trouble controlling the ball anywhere near the Portland goal, and Nick Rimando coming up big time after time. The defense came up huge for RSL tonight as the entire back line had a great night with Jamison Olave showing everyone why he is back in Salt Lake. Chris Schuler was in great form, with a beautiful save in the 93′ when Nick Rimando came off his line and saved the 0-0 finish.
Real Salt Lake: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran; Jámison Olave; Chris Schuler; Kenny Mansally; Javier Morales; Kyle Beckerman; Luis Gil (Devon Sandoval, 88′); Sebastián Jaime (Luke Mulholland, 65′); Álvaro Saborio; Olmes Garcia (Jordan Allen, 81′)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella; Aaron Maund; Elias Vásquez; Sebastian Saucedo
Portland Timbers: Adam Larsen Kwarasey; Alvas Powell; Nat Borchers; Liam Ridgewell; Jorge Villafaña; Jack Jewsbury; George Fochive (Michael Nanchoff, 86′); Dairon Asprilla (Gastón Fernández, 62′); Darlington Nagbe; Rodney Wallace; Fanando Adi (Maximiliano Urruti, 82)
Substitutes not used: Andrew Weber Norberto Paparatto; Jeanderson; Nick Besler
Quotes from Real Salt Lake
On the teams performance
“The effort from the guys was tremendous.”
“We’re not gonna get pushed around this year for sure.”
“Everyone was on the same page defensively.”
On how he feels about the start to the season
“Shutout at Portland and now go home and get things done.”
Up Next for Real Salt Lake:
Real Salt Lake host the Philadelphia Union in their home opener at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, March 14th.