Javier Morales scored his second goal of the tournament for Real Salt Lake from the penalty spot. Photo: Real Salt Lake
Sebastian Jaime continued his fine run of form Wednesday night as Real Salt Lake continued its success against the Portland Timbers on their home turf.
Jaime scored for the third time in four games, opening the scoring in the 54th minute, and Javier Morales added a 71st-minute penalty as RSL blanked the Timbers 2-0 in a fifth-round match of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in Sandy, Utah.
A crowd of 15,840 turned out at Rio Tinto Stadium on a sweltering night that saw the mercury at 97 degrees at kickoff, and the vast majority left happy with the claret and cobalt having booked a quarterfinal berth against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
“It’s about the Open Cup. It’s about winning a trophy. It’s about winning three games and we’re there,” said RSL coach Jeff Cassar, whose team advanced to the final eight in the tournament for the third time in the past five years. “I wrote it up on the board yesterday: Four games. We got one out of the way and we have three more. We’ve got to take them one at a time. It’s not really about who you’re playing, it’s just about getting the victory.”
Neither team was at full strength. The home side was without goalkeeper Nick Rimando and midfielder Kyle Beckerman (U.S.) and striker Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica), who were with their respective national teams preparing for the Gold Cup. Portland’s Will Johnson (Canada) also was away on international duty, while fellow midfielders Darlington Nagbe and Diego Chara didn’t make the trip to Utah and standouts Diego Valeri and Fanendi Adi started the match on the bench.The Timbers had the better chances in a rather ho-hum first half.
They actually had the ball in the net in the 7th minute after a great combination sequence between George Fochive and Argentinian forwards Maxi Urruti and Gaston Fernandez that ended with Fernandez putting the ball past RSL keeper Jeff Attinella, but the flag was up for offside. Six minutes later, Urruti ripped a shot from the top of the box that forced Attinella to make a diving save, then scramble to corral the rebound before a Timbers player could get to it.
Center back Aaron Maund provided RSL with its best opportunity of the opening 45 minutes, sending a header over the crossbar off a free kick by Morales in the 28th.
The hosts finally broke through early in the second half. Olmes Garcia slid a pass to Jaime on the right side of the box between Portland center backs Liam Ridgewell and Nat Borchers – the latter a former RSL fan favorite making his first return to Rio Tinto – and the Argentinian forward slotted a shot past Timbers keeper Adam Kwarasey to the far post.
“Jaime, he’s feeling it right now,” Cassar said of the designated player, who scored his first goal for RSL in a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City on June 21 and added another in last Saturday’s 2-2 draw against the Columbus Crew. “He’s confident, he’s making good runs when the guys are delivering the ball.”
Referee Jose Carlos Rivero had decisions to make on potential penalties on both ends with 20 minutes remaing. Rivero waved play on when Urruti went down in the box, then pointed to the spot when Fochive clipped RSL striker Joao Plata just inside the box on the other end.
“I have to watch it again. For me it’s a bit harsh … It’s on the edge of the box, tangling, but I’ve got to watch it,” Portland coach Caleb Porter said. “You’ll look at the first goal we scored; you’ll probably notice he wasn’t offside, so there’s a good goal. If we get that the game’s different. Maxi goes down in the box and no call; their guy goes down in the box and it’s a call. It’s a game of moments, it’s a game of mistakes, it’s a game of capitalizing on opportunities. It fell in their favor today. Otherwise I thought it was a very tight, even game – what you would expect of a cup game.”
Morales took a long run-up on the penalty, stutter-stepped and beat Kwarasey on a shot to the keeper’s right – the Ghanaian dove the right way but couldn’t stop Morales from scoring his fifth goal of the season in all competitions.
Valeri, who came on just after the hour mark, nearly pulled one back for the Timbers off a free kick from 23 yards out on the left side in the 77th, but the wicked strike skimmed the top of the crossbar. Jaime, meanwhile, nearly added another insurance goal in the 83rd, only to see Kwarasey deny his blast from the top of the box on the right side.
FULL MATCH REPLAY: PORTLAND TIMBERS AT REAL SALT LAKE