Portland Timbers Lose to RSL in Stoppage Time Heartbreaker: Fan Take

The Portland Timbers lost to Real Salt Lake at home on the pitch in Jeld-Wen Field March 31, in a cruel finish that stunned fans and team alike in a surreal ending that seemed almost like an early April Fool's joke.

The first goal of the game came as a result of a questionable referee decision. It looked like Rodney Wallace was called for a handball, but the Timbers argued it was unintentional. The ruling from the referee was a yellow card on Eric Brunner for dissent. Whatever happened, RSL were awarded a penalty kick and Alvoro Saborio put it in the back of the net.

Timbers come from behind for lead

In spite of giving up the first goal, Portland kept up the pressure. Both sides attacked from the start and were able to penetrate each other's defense. Some great goalkeeper work at both ends and near misses kept the score low. It wasn't until the second half that the Timbers got on the board. Four minutes into the second half, Darlington Nagbe took a feed from Eric Alexander and fired it past RSL 'keeper Nick Rimando.

Alexander was impressive on the night. He was in the starting XI in place of Kalif Alhassan, and showed a presence that could find him working toward a starting spot again. He worked a ball into Nagbe again, for what was an impressive goal reminiscent of the score that earned Nagbe Goal of the Year honors last season.

Darlington Nagbe brace, another extraordinary goal, not enough

In the game last season when Nagbe scored that incredible goal, Sporting Kansas City won the game. Unfortunately, this season he scored another one for the ages that will be tempered down by the fact that the Timbers ultimately lost the game.

RSL substituted in Jonny Steele in the 78th minute, and almost immediately he began to create space and more opportunity for chances. It wasn't until the 89th minute until it paid off, when he scored the equalizer and denied Portland three points. That was a shock enough, but the stoppage time goal for the win was devastating.

I think it was another referee call that influenced the game. Kyle Beckerman was given a yellow card well into stoppage time. After the caution, he seemed fired up while most of the rest of the players on the pitch seemed a little confused. It's safe to say RSL seemed happy to have come back to the draw, and the Timbers seemed stunned by the equalizer.

The added confusion after the caution to Beckerman seemed to set Portland's defense off it's game, and Beckerman took advantage. I'm not saying the caution was a bad call, just that it was the catalyst for Beckerman's intensity and the Timbers' breakdown on defense.

"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 head coach Jason Kries said, noting the luck of Beckerman's goal. "However, I felt that the third goal was a little bit of a gift and I walked away with a smile on my face."

Jeff Musall became a fan of the Portland Timbers after moving to the area in 2001. He is excited about the second MLS season and wants to see a playoff run.

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Updated Sunday, Apr 1, 2012