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Timbers Fall to Real Salt Lake on the Road

August 31, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Portland Timbers

SANDY, Utah - Forward Joao Plata scored a goal and recorded two assists to help league-leading Real Salt Lake earn a 4-2 win over the Portland Timbers, who played shorthanded in the second half following a red card right before halftime, at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday night.

The Timbers (9-5-12, 39pts) currently sit in a two-way tie for third place in a tightly contested Western Conference. Real Salt Lake (14-8-6, 48pts) extends its lead at the top of the conference table and in the race for the Supporters' Shield with the win.

Real Salt Lake got off to a quick start, scoring twice in the opening 15 minutes, but the Timbers fought their way back into the match when forward Darlington Nagbe scored in the 31st minute to cut the deficit, 2-1, heading into halftime. Portland, however, went down a man in first-half stoppage time when Ben Zemanski was issued a straight red card.

Forward Javier Morales factored in both goals for Real Salt Lake in the second half, as the home side took a 4-1 lead in the 67th minute. The Timbers found a goal in the 78th minute to pull one back as a hard shot on target by forward Jose Valencia set up Sal Zizzo for a goal off the rebound.

Portland's loss is just its fifth of the season, which is tied for the fewest in MLS. The Timbers have lost back-to-back games for just the first time this season and for the first time since July 21-28, 2012.

Despite being down a player for 45 minutes, the Timbers nearly matched Real Salt Lake in shots (11-9) and shots on goal (6-4), and held the advantage in corner kicks, 6-4.

Real Salt Lake took the lead in the ninth minute on the fifth goal of the season by midfielder Luis Gil. A series of quick passes allowed Plata to slip Gil down the right side of the box and, with a clean look, Gil placed a shot along the ground just by Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts and inside the left post.

Six minutes later, Plata was on the receiving end of a pass from midfielder Ned Grabavoy near the top of the box on the left side. With his first touch, Plata was able to get around his defender and, from inside the box, struck a shot off the right post that deflected in for a 2-0 lead.

Portland pulled one back just after the half hour mark on Nagbe's eighth goal of the season. Defender Michael Harrington quickly moved the ball up the left flank before passing the ball off to Nagbe in the middle of the park. Nagbe set himself up for a shot from distance that skipped past Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando and inside the left post to cut the deficit 2-1.

The Timbers, who had a chance at the equalizer in the 41st minute on a free kick by Kalif Alhassan, were reduced 10 players when referee Baldomero Toledo deemed Zemanski's hard challenge on Grabavoy in the midfield circle worthy of a straight red card.

Morales' seventh goal of the season lifted Real Salt Lake to a 3-1 lead in the 55th minute. A corner kick by Plata from the left side found Morales on the back side the penalty area. His first touch popped the ball slightly into the air. With his back to goal, Morales then took a shot with an overhead kick that sent the ball inside the top left corner of the goal.

Real Salt Lake pushed its lead to 4-1 in the 67th minute. A free kick from the right side by Morales found forward Álvaro SaborÃ-o running along the top of the six-yard box, and SaborÃ-o was able to snap a header from a tight angle just under the crossbar.

Valencia unloaded a hard shot from distance aimed inside the top left corner of the goal in the 78th minute, and Rimando was just able to knock the ball down for the save. But Zizzo was there to pounce on the rebound and scored his first goal of the season.

Portland had a good look on goal in the 70th minute when defender Alvas Powell got on the end of a free kick in to the box, but his diving header went wide.

The Timbers return home to play host to Toronto FC on Saturday, Sept. 7, at JELD-WEN Field at 8 p.m. (Pacific); Portland is unbeaten in its last 10 league matches at JELD-WEN Field. The match against Toronto FC will be televised on KPTV and in Spanish on EstrellaTV, with radio broadcasts available on 750 The Game and in Spanish on La Pantera 940AM.

Notes:

- The Timbers and Real Salt Lake met for the third time in a span of 24 days during the month August between league and U.S. Open Cup play. The two clubs will complete their 2013 season series at JELD-WEN Field in the Timbers regular-season home finale on Oct. 19.

- Two of the top scoring teams in the Western Conference, the Timbers and Real Salt Lake combined for 15 goals over their three games in August.

- The loss is the Timbers' fifth of the season, which is tied with the Montreal Impact for the fewest in the league.

- The Timbers, along with the Colorado Rapids, have the fewest road losses in MLS (4).

- The defeat marks the first time this season in which the Timbers have lost consecutive matches.

- Defender Rauwshan McKenzie made his first MLS appearance as a member of the Timbers, starting on the back line against his former club Real Salt Lake. He played for RSL for two seasons from 2010-11.

- Forward Darlington Nagbe, starting in his 40th consecutive league match, scored his career-best eighth goal of the season and is now tied for the team lead in goals. He is the Timbers MLS career leader in goal-scoring with 16 goals.

- Nagbe's goal was his fifth scored on the road this season, which leads the team in road scoring.

- Defender Michael Harrington recorded his first assist of the season on Nagbe's goal.

- Midfielder Sal Zizzo scored his first goal of the season; it was his second-career MLS goal.

- Portland is 6-3-8 against Western Conference clubs in 2013.

- Midfielder Diego Valeri left the match in the 32nd minute due to an adductor strain.

- Forward Bright Dike made his first appearance in the match-day roster this season since undergoing surgery for an ACL injury in February.

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