Kyle Beckerman’s goal in stoppage time capped a furious come-from-behind rally for Real Salt Lake in a 3-2 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
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Jonny Steele, a late substitute, got the ball past diving Portland goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 89th minute after RSL (3-1-0) fell behind 2-1 in the second half. Beckerman’s goal then stunned the sellout crowd at Jeld-Wen Field.
”I felt like we were going to score but I don’t want to say too much as I would have been happy with a tie,” RSL coach Jason Kreis said. ”However, I felt that the third goal was a little bit of a gift and I walked away with a smile on my face.”
Darlington Nagbe scored two goals for the Timbers (1-2-1), becoming the first Portland player with multiple goals in a game since Jorge Perlaza had a pair in the Timbers’ home opener last year, their inaugural MLS season.
”It’s crazy how momentum changes,” Nagbe said with a shrug.
Alvaro Saborio, returning to the starting lineup for the first time this season, scored on a penalty kick in the first half for RSL, which was opening a stretch of three matches in eight days.
The Timbers controlled the ball early on and Perlaza came close to scoring in the 32nd minute, but the ball caught the side netting. Real Salt Lake went up 1-0 in the 39th on Saborio’s penalty kick after Portland defender Rodney Wallace was called for a hand ball in the box.
The Timbers tied it in the 48th minute when Nagbe’s kick from out in front of the box sailed between two RSL defenders and past goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
After his second goal in the 65th flew over Rimando’s outstretched arms, Nagbe pumped his arm before running toward coach John Spencer for a team celebration at the sideline.
But after the game, it was all disappointment for the Timbers.
”I think we had a good game plan, but we got caught sleeping a couple of times,” Timbers midfielder Eric Alexander said.
Kreis called Portland ”dynamic,” even in the loss.
”Eric Alexander was everywhere tonight causing a lot of problems for us. He was coming inside and making things look different. Nagbe as well caused us trouble by getting inside and behind Beckerman to cause plays in the first and second half,” Kreis said. ”If I was John (Spencer) I’d be really pleased with my group because I thought they played really well.”
RSL was at its healthiest since the start of the season. Defender Nat Borchers made his debut with the team after sitting out with a left quadriceps strain. Saborio and midfielder Javier Morales were also back in RSL’s starting lineup after offseason surgery, and midfielder Will Johnson made his season debut after recovering from a strained groin.
The Timbers, meanwhile, were missing a few players, including midfielder Kalif Alhassan, out with a groin strain, and forward Eddie Johnson and defender Hanyer Mosquera, who both have concussions.
Spencer seemed just as stunned as the crowd after the match.
”It’s a cruel game sometimes, and tonight is one of those games,” he said.
Last season the Timbers downed RSL 1-0 in Portland before playing to a 1-all draw in Utah in October.
Both teams were coming off losses: Portland fell 1-0 at New England last weekend and RSL lost 1-0 at home to Chivas USA.
The Timbers Army supporters group urged fans to wear hoodies to the game in support of the international ”Show Racism the Red Card” movement.
Some criticized the move, claiming that it appeared to be a statement in the Trayvon Martin case. The Florida teenager’s death has sparked a debate about whether hooded sweat shirts present a negative image.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer who has claimed self-defense and has not been arrested. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was killed.
A sellout crowd of 20,438 fans attended the match.