A Beautiful Draw

[ 0 ] October 20, 2013 |

Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers battled to a scoreless draw Saturday at Jeld-Wen Field.

“I’m pleased, really pleased with the defensive effort the guys are putting in,” coach Jason Kreis said. “I think that if we could do this on the road in the playoffs, we’ll be in a really good spot.”

Kreis opted for a modified lineup given the suspension to Javier Morales and some time to think: Lovell Palmer earned the start over Tony Beltran, Luis Gil moved to the top of the diamond, and Kyle Beckerman shifted to the side for Gil. That meant Yordany Alvarez took over the holding midfield role.

The draw for Salt Lake is the result of impressive defense from the entire back line to preserve the clean sheet.

“Today I think the guys played great,” goalkeeper Nick Rimando said. “We kept a zero in the back. If we continue to play like that, we’ll win a couple of playoff games.”

The visitors’ play was enough to earn the draw, but Salt Lake was unable to get the win and the inside track to first place in the Western Conference. Instead, the result means Portland will remain ahead of Salt Lake heading into the final week of the season. Both teams will play their final matches against Chivas USA.

Chris Schuler served as an effective destroyer early, breaking up numerous opportunities for Portland before the home side could develop chances on goal.

Salt Lake attacked as well. The side’s best early chance came in the 12th minute when Chris Wingert sent a cross into the box that Gil headed, but missed wide of the goal.

Portland had a chance in the 28th minute when a Jose Adolfo Valencia cross into the box found Diego Valeri; however, Portland’s Argentine playmaker got too far under the ball and hit it high over the crossbar.

Portland missed its best chance of the first half in the 43rd minute when a cross from Valencia rolled across the front of the Salt Lake goal. No attacker got on the end of it, and the half ended scoreless.

The second half continued just as the first had, though neither side was able to break through and create a solid chance until the 65th minute.

It came when a collision between Wingert and Valencia left an opening for Jack Jewsbury to dribble into the box and cross the ball to Kalif Alhassan wide open eight yards from goal. Alhassan put a shot on frame, but Nick Rimando snagged the ball with his right hand to keep the match scoreless.

Portland had the last best chances of the match in the 94th minute when a deep free kick from Will Johnson made it over the wall. Rimando punched away this shot, but Sal Zizzo got to the rebound and headed it on frame. Rimando punched that away too to preserve the clean sheet.

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