Jason Kreis has his team convinced they're already in the playoffs for all intents and purposes. With only four games left in the regular season, the all important seatings are up for grabs in the Western Conference with San Jose, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles all jockeying to take one of the top three spots for a first round bye. RSL and Los Angeles are tied for the third spot. Saturday at Rio Tinto, the boys in Claret and Cobalt started off like a playoff team with two goals in the first half, but struggled in the second half to stay as energized as the first. They squeaked out a win despite four high quality second half shots on goal that RSL players spotted poorly so as to make Portland goalie Joe Bendik look better than he actually was.

Game Stats

Match Info

Real Salt Lake (14-11-4, 46 pts)
Portland Timbers (7-14-8, 29 pts)

Referee: Kevin Stott
Attendance:

Score: Real Salt Lake 2, Portland Timbers 1

Goals: Fabian Espindola (RSL) 14', Javier Morales (RSL) 36', Bright Dike (POR) 61'

Cards:

Yellows: Jamison Olave (RSL) 81'

Red: None

Summary:
Real Salt Lake | Portland Timbers

2 Goals 1
13 Attempts on Goal 11
5 Shots on Target 5
4 Shots off Target 3
4 Blocked Shots 3
8 Corner Kicks 6
9 Fouls 8
8 Open Play Crosses 10
0 Offsides 3
44 Duels Won 48
47.8% Duels Won % 52.2%
435 Total Pass 458
84.1% Passing Accuracy % 84.9%
48.4% Possession 51.6%

Nick Rimando (GK)

Nick Rimando's 21st minute save off a point blank Rodney Wallace header may have been the play of the game. And that's saying something considering how RSL scored it's goals. Wallace streaked in on a set piece to find himself wide open at the mouth of the goal as the perfectly placed corner kick from Jack Jewsbury fell to him, but Rimando got just enough of a hand to the ball to keep it from crossing the line and Will Johnson cleaned it out. He was let down by Olave in the 61st minute who failed to track Portland's Bright Dike who headed one way out of Rimando's reach and into the back of the net. Nick was the hero once again in the 81st minute when he saved a rocketing and dipping free kick from second half Portland energizer, Bright Dike, that was net-bound but for Nick's quick reflexes.

MIN 90
SHT 11
SV 4
GA 1
A 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: A

Tony Beltran (DEF)

Tony played solid defense again, but was given a lot of leeway to play forward where he was extremely dangerous - combining with both Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola numerous times that resulted in quality shots.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Jamison Olave (DEF)

Jamison was a welcome site for RSL fans, coming back for his first home game in more than a month. He started up right where he'd left off before his injury, winning almost every ball out of the air that came his way, and keeping Portland's big striker, Danny Mwanga, from using his size and strength to his usual advantage. But second half sub Bright Dike troubled both Borchers and Olave. Jamison struggled to stick with him on Portland's better counters in the second half and Dike finally made him pay in the 61st minute when he separated from him and skied for the header-goal to keep the score interesting. He nearly made him pay again in the 81st minute when Jamison's positioning made his only option on the streaking Dike a take him down right outside the box to earn his yellow card. Rimando saved Dike's resulting free kick, but just barely.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: Yellow

Grade: B-

Nat Borchers (DEF)

Nat Borchers did what he needed to in order to give RSL the win but he struggled during the second half against a fresh and aggressive Bright Dike and a rejuvenated Danny Mwanga. Nat showed his grit, marshaling the troops after Dike's goal, clearly intent on keeping Portland from tying the game and making it more difficult for a top 3 finish in the West.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Chris Wingert (DEF)

Chris Wingert did well to stay in front of Portland's strong and athletic front line. He struggled on breakaways but managed to position himself well enough on most occasions to keep Portland from hurting RSL down the right side.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Ned Grabavoy (MID)

Ned Grabavoy came on tentative for the first 20-30 minutes of the game, playing much less aggressive than we've seen of late, falling back into defensive positions regularly when he needed to be on the attack. He looked stronger in the second half, showing early in the 56th minute for a beautifully placed ball from Fabian Espindola that allowed him to run free into the box where he pinged one off the left goal-post.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 2
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Kyle Beckerman (MID)

Kyle wasn't flashy Saturday night, and it was his defense that shined more than his offense, but he made sure Portland knew they couldn't lose track of him. His 40 yard cracker in the 49th minute missed the goal by only a foot or two.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: A-

Javier Morales (MID)

Javier Morales must have an invisibility cloak. All night long he would make a play somewhere then pop up seconds later downfield to receive the won ball. Javier confused Portland's defense enough to keep them from crashing in on 50-50 balls around the mouth of the goal. He was on the receiving end of a hard (but legal) charge by Steven Smith in the 28th minute that might have slowed him down, but Javier, determined not to let Portland get into his head, struck home perhaps his finest set piece goal of the season in the 36th minute, which he'd also won with a terrific run up the left side of the pitch.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 1
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: A, Man of the Match

Will Johnson (MID)

Will Johnson may have saved RSL a major momentum shift if not the game when in the 21st minute he was in the right place at the right time to clear a Nick Rimando save off the line. His motor in the middle was critical in helping RSL keep Portland's offense from piecing together any sort of controlled attack through the midfield as he closed with intent on every ball that came remotely close to him.

MIN 90
G 0
A 0
SHT 1
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 3
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Fabian Espindola (FWD)

Fabian Espindola started off a little shaky - his passes and placement seemed a little frenetic, but by the 10th minute he settled in. Good thing, because it was not only his boot but his play outside the 18-yard box that gave RSL its first score. Streaking down the middle of the field in the 13th minute, he slid a perfect pass to Morales who was fouled just inches outside the penalty box. Fabian scored off a grass-scorcher in 14th minute off the consequential set piece won a minute earlier by the sneaky Javier Morales. The goal was pretty sneaky too. Kyle Beckerman streaked off the ball to the right to pull the wall off with him as Javier stepped over it, flicking it back to Fabi who shot it through the hole created by Beckerman with perfect placement into the bottom left corner of the goal.

He had three more shots on goal in the second half, and but for his poor targeting, he might have had a hat trick. Despite his nice goal, his inability to finish kept RSL from putting enough distance between them and Portland to keep the Timbers from mounting hope for a comeback.

MIN 83
G 1
A 0
SHT 5
SOG 4
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 2

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Paulo Junior (FWD)

Paulo Junior got the start with Alvaro Saborio sitting on the bench with a shoulder injury incurred in RSL's 1-0 win at CONCACAF Champion's League opponent Tauro FC in Panama. He had a dangerous header in the early minutes of the game off a Tony Beltran cross but other than that, he didn't figure as much into RSL's attack as you expect from the RSL forward playing opposite Fabian Espindola. Real struggled on holdup balls in the midfield. Paulo won them but lacked the strength and size to keep and distribute them. With Espindola on the field and Saborio out, Jason Kreis might want to consider the strength and size of a a Justin Braun or even a Kenny Mansally.

MIN 67
G 0
A 0
SHT 2
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 1

Cards: None

Grade: B+

Emiliano Bonfigli (SUB 67' - FWD)

Emiliano Bonfigli was subbed on in the 67th minute for Paulo Junior. The youngster looked rusty. His energy was high, but his touch on the ball less than excellent for this late in the season.

MIN 23
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B-

Yordany Alvarez (SUB 83' - MID)

Yordany Alvarez was subbed on in the 83rd minute for Fabian Espindola as a second defensive midfielder to ice the game. He was effective in clogging up the midfield and kept Portland from mounting more than a couple slightly opportune shots in the waning minutes of the second half.

MIN 7
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: B

Luis Gil (SUB XX' - MID)

Luis Gil came on in substitution for Javier Morales in stoppage time as a time waster.

MIN 1
G 0
A 0
SHT 0
SOG 0
CK 0
OF 0
FC 0
FS 0

Cards: None

Grade: Did not play long enough