Grossman’s stoppage-time goal gives 10-man RSL road point in Portland

Real Salt Lake celebration (Getty Images)

By MIKE DONOVAN

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Cole Grossman goal in stoppage time gave Real Salt Lake a comeback draw in a wild match against the Portland Timbers.

Grossman’s goal was the decider as the Timbers and 10-man Real Salt Lake played to a 3-3 draw at Jeld-Wen Field Wednesday night. The matchup of two teams near the top of the Western Conference table did not disappoint, as the game featured several back-and-forth moments, two penalty kicks, and a red card to Yordany Alvarez. Kalif Alhassan, Diego Valeri, and Rodney Wallace scored the goals for the home side while Grossman, Nat Borchers and Javier Morales found the score sheet for RSL.

“If we’re being honest, we’re all pretty gutted not to get that three points. Honestly, it’s in our hands at three-two,” Porter said.

After what Porter called a “miss clearance” by Timbers defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Grossman calmly put the ball past a sprawling Donovan Ricketts three minutes into stoppage time. Grossman was making his first appearance since March after dealing with a concussion for the majority of the season. It was also only Grossman’s second appearance for RSL after being claimed off waivers following two disappointing seasons with the Columbus Crew.

Grossman’s second career professional goal gave RSL a point and the club maintained its three-point lead over the Timbers.

“Most goals are scored with multiple mistakes and I think there were clearly a few mistakes, things that could have been better,” Porter said.

“The key thing is, you can’t play not to lose. When you play not to lose, you lose. We’re at our best when we’re proactive.”

Portland looked like it would take the victory after Kalif Alhassan sent a bullet past RSL backup goalkeeper Jeff Attinella in the 86th minute. After a collision between Borchers and the Timbers’ Jose Adolfo Valencia, the ball found the feet of Alhassan and after one touch he sent a screamer that was touched by Attinella, but still found its way into the net. It was Alhassan’s first goal for the Timbers since the 2012 season opener and looked to be the decider until Grossman’s late heroics.

Despite being minutes away from a victory, the Timbers never looked as sharp as the club had at earlier parts of the season.

“The reality is that we really didn’t play well enough to win the game,” Michael Harrington said. “We were in a position to win it, but it wasn’t quite good enough from us tonight.”

RSL did take the lead into halftime, but the Timbers tied it up when the hosts were awarded a penalty kick after Brandon McDonald was struck by the ball in the elbow inside the penalty area. Diego Valeri calmly finished from the spot to tie the game.

Despite not having many scoring opportunities in the first 35 minutes, RSL more than made up for it when they turned the game on its head in the final ten minutes of the first half. RSL got on the board when Nat Borchers cleaned up a saved header from Alvarez, who was ejected in the latter parts of a game that marked his return from suspension.

“After we scored the goal, our mentality let down a little bit. The last few games that has been a little bit of an issue, we’ve had good spells, but our mentality is not there for 90 minutes. That’s hurt us,” Harrington said. “It’s a psychological mentality we need to fix.”

Five minutes later, Ricardo Salazar pointed to the spot when Jean-Baptiste was judged to have taken down Javier Morales. The Argentine finished what he started by easily beating Ricketts from the spot to tally his sixth goal of the season. Jean-Baptiste admitted to making contact, but thought Morales went down softly.

“He felt my hand and he saw the opportunity and that my arm was on him,” Jean-Baptiste said. “It wasn’t enough to send a real player down, but he saw the opportunity and he took advantage of it. The ref saw it and gave him a gift.”

Valeri continued his hot form with the goal and an assist. He delivered his seventh helper in six games for the Timbers when his curling free kick found the head of Timbers winger Rodney Wallace, who left Attinella little chance of making the stop. It was Wallace’s fifth goal of the season, but first since May.

While both teams were missing their respective captains in Will Johnson and Kyle Beckerman, RSL was also missing goalkeeper Nick Rimando due to illness and forward Alvorio Saborio due to a calf strain. In Beckerman’s stead, Jason Kreis turned to Alvarez, who was returning from a three-game suspension due to a studs-up challenge against the New York Red Bulls. After a Alvarez went in hard against Diego Chara, he was shown red by Salazar.

Rimando, meanwhile, was replaced by Attinella, who captured his first point as a starter after coming into the match with losses in his previous two MLS starts. Attinella had just two saves on the night, but his denial of a Ryan Johnson header in the early moments of the second half kept RSL in front for the time being.

The Timbers will return to action Sunday when they take on their rival Seattle Sounders in what is expected to be Clint Dempsey’s home debut for Seattle. RSL, meanwhile, travels home where they will take on the Columbus Crew Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Here are the match highlights:

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30 Responses to Grossman’s stoppage-time goal gives 10-man RSL road point in Portland

  1. BFT says:

    Great game to watch as a neutral. End-to-end stuff with both teams keeping it on the deck. Much better midfield play than my Union!

    Thought the red card was harsh. Definitely a foul, probably a yellow, but a red? I imagine that will be appealed.

    • bandeeto says:

      Refs are supposed to be perfectly impartial, judge each incident for it’s own merrit, and make the right call all the time… they’re supposed to be inhumanly perfect. Unfortunately, Alvarez has made a name for himself in this league. Just like San Joses “bash brothers’, had to step lightly for half a season to distance themselves from their reputations. Alvarez will have to do the same. He’s a liability at the moment and will be more closely scrutinized by refs due to past recless challenges. that’s pro soccer.

  2. Joe says:

    Sabo, Beckerman and Rimando were inactive. Cole Grossman with the game winner??? Big result for RSL.

  3. J says:

    Harsh – maybe, but it won’t be contested. Poor choice yet again this season by Yordany on the follow-through. I think he’s trying for a record cards/game played stat or something.

    Mike – I think your statement ‘after Brandon McDonald handled the ball’ is fairly liberal and borderline inaccurate. Did it touch him – sure. Kicked into his elbow from behind when he was running the other direction. Maybe ‘after Brandon McDonald elbowed the ball’ would be more accurate or even ‘called for a handball’. Almost as silly a call as the PK on Borchers when he stopped himself from falling flat on his face and hit the ball (with no prevention of goal scoring chance).

    • bandeeto says:

      Any time the ball hits a defenders hand in the box it’s an opportunity for a penalty. Intenional or unintentonal. Watch the best defenders and you’ll see they hold their hands behind their backs so the opportunity for a miss call is greatly reduced. that’s why good defenders are so valuable. They must be smarter and more athletic than the attackers 100% of the time, and they just did their jobs. Attackers just have to beat a defender once and they’re the hero. I’m an RSL fan, and i don’t think it was intentional, but i think our defenders can do better… make it easier on the ref to make the right call.

      • TimbersGary says:

        Agree. The handball PK was a fair call, even if it’s definitely one that could have gone uncalled. However, I think he got a yellow, too, which is baffling for the unintentional circumstances.

  4. pcny says:

    Holy cow–one of the best games of the year. This is a tie that feels like a win for one team, loss for the other. Buckle up Western Conference…the finish is going to be wild!!!

    • Oog says:

      Agreed about one of the best games of the year. I’m an RSL fan, and even if they lost, it still would have been a great game. Quite the dis by Jean-Baptiste.

  5. Since 82 says:

    Sorry, the MLS is a joke until the officiating is cleared up.

    • Bobb says:

      What was wrong with the officiating?

      • Since 82 says:

        First RSL goal … foul on Valeri. No question. AJB penalty?? No penalty. That’s a start …

        • Neruda says:

          Clean hustle play by javi on his first assist and the arm holding javi on the penalty is a foul anywhere in the field. It just so happened to be a foul in the box.

        • Clyde Frog says:

          The difference between MLS officiating and the top European leagues is not nearly as big as some say. And compared with other leagues around the world at a similar level, MLS officiating is not that bad. It’s just the nature of soccer and indicative of the fact that soccer is more difficult to officiate than other sports. Poor calls decide outcomes in games around the world.

        • Achtung3945 says:

          No Penalty?? You can clearly see AJB’s Arm draped across Javi along with a tug while he is going to play for the ball. I know you are pissed that you lost 2 points late but it wasn’t any softer than the unintentional handball call you got later. As for Valeri being fouled you could say the same thing happened to Stephenson on your first goal. All in all I think the calls evened out except that Alvarez got a red, fair enough he was reckless but Kah didn’t get carded for cleaning out both Plata (in the box) and Attinella with an elbow to the head. If anything you got the better of the calls really.

          I love watching these two teams play. Best matchup in the league this year I think. They both are skilled and don’t sit back. Can’t wait for Aug 30th.

        • Bobb says:

          Or maybe you’re a biased Timbers fan?

          As a neutral who watched, I could sympathize with your first statement until you made the second one. That’s a clear penalty.

    • beachbum says:

      did you see the Chelsea game? but one example of the officiating across the globe affecting outcomes. Calling out only MLS seems the joke to me

  6. Since 82 says:

    MLS officiating is so poor. Killing the league.

    • che says:

      I guess you didn’t watch the Chelsea Aston Villa game yesterday

    • Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

      And by killing the league, he means that Seattle hasn’t built a bigger stadium to fit the demand ( way over 70,000 ) for tickets on Sunday.

      Read my tag, follow please ;-)

    • JRP says:

      You have a point. The league is having a hard time recruiting top talent and fans are staying home because of poor officiating.
      Or is it that attendance is up and many great players are hoping across the pond to play in the MLS?
      Your hyperbole is killing rational thought.

  7. Neruda says:

    Yordany Alvarez is reckless even though it may not been hard enough for a red but still he’s careless. He’s costing RSL big time. Meanwhile cole grossman just earned himself more playing time. Jeff attinella had a great game. RSL stll needs to sure up the back line.

    Nyrb likes to take RSL players so maybe we can work a trade for Alvarez.

    • Oog says:

      Agree with all of your comments. Alvarez is becoming a liability.

    • Eugene says:

      RBNY like to take your good players, not d-mids with poor control that get tossed from games and hurt their team. Not to mention we have one of the best d-mids in the league in Dax McCarty.

  8. Quit whining about soccer in the US says:

    Wow. Great game. Late goal followed by late stoppage time goal. Almost makes you feel sorry for Portland……bahahahaha.

    Move the Timbers to Miami, so they can root for a real team….I think Roger might be starting this wekend. Seattle is going to end their misery on Sunday !

  9. Vinz Clortho says:

    Interesting parallels amongst the goals. First Portland goal after a little shove off. First RSL goal created by Javi’s bumping Valeri to claim the ball. Both second goals were PK’s that leaned toward the soft end. Both third goals game were good finishes created by defensive failures.

    Really entertaining go get ‘em match. It’s funny to think that either of these teams could still screw up and miss the playoffs. The parity this year is extremely high and the quality of play has been the best I’ve ever seen. Every week there are some amazing goals.

  10. Nyran Hart says:

    I don’t get to see many MLS games down here in VENEZUELA BUT READING THE COMMENTS OF THE FANS IS VERY ENTERTAINING AND MAKES ME WISH i COULD SEE MORE OF THOSE GAMES.