Real Salt Lake made two substitutions at the half, bringing on Andy Williams and Will Johnson to try to open things up offensively. It didn't seem to help as the half began but around the 60th minute Salt Lake began to make in-roads in to the Portland defense and you could start to see the possession and control Portland had shown over the match begin to fade. It was a steady forward push by RSL to collapse the Timbers shape and get on the heels. Still, no goals came.
Despite several good chances for Salt Lake, there were unable to break through against the Timbers who looked like an entirely new club on the defensive end.
After all the defensive struggles and giving up the second most goals in MLS so far this season, a clean sheet against anyone would be a tremendous feet. To shutout arguably the league's best club, even at home, is one hell of a performance from this new iteration of the Timbers.
With the loss, Salt Lake's unbeaten run ends at 18 matches, one shy of tying the league record and their nine-match road unbeaten streak (second best all-time) ends as well. While it's only one match, with fatigue and travel playing a part, you expect the inevitable questions will begin to be asked about how Salt Lake is going to rebound from the CONCACAF Champions League loss. To be fair, it's too early to say and I don't want to take anything away from the Timbers performance tonight.
For now, Salt Lake will have to regroup and get their season back on track while the Timbers can leave Jeld-Wen Field proud of their performance with the sound of a revving chainsaw ringing in their ears...or a blues explosion.