Photo courtesy Sam Ortega / Portland Timbers 2
PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers 2 brought an end to Real Monarchs SLC’s four-game winning streak as a late goal by Dairon Asprilla earned a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon at Providence Park. Real’s Chandler Hoffman almost gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute as he shot just wide of the right post, and five minutes later T2’s first good chance arrived as Foster Langsdorf’s point-blank header was well saved by Monarchs goalkeeper Jake Leeker. Portland had the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot 11 minutes before halftime, but Leeker first saved from Asprilla and then palmed away the rebound to allow his defense to recover to keep the game scoreless. Leeker made another big save just before the break as he came off his line sharply to close down a chance for T2’s Renzo Zambrano, but Portland’s pressure continued into the second half and resulted in a second penalty kick after Marvin Loria was brought down in the area. For a second time, though, T2 missed from the spot as Zambrano shot high to the right side with an effort that clipped the crossbar. Portland was finally rewarded with 13 minutes to go, however, when Asprilla was played into the left side of the penalty area and shot low past Leeker to put the hosts ahead. Real tried to find an equalizer late, but while Maikel Chang slid a shot just wide of the right post with five minutes to go and Andrew Brody had a late effort saved by T2 goalkeeper Alex Mangels, the hosts held on for all three points.
77’ – POR – Dairon Asprilla (Renzo Zambrano)
Three Things That Matter:
1. Portland moved within two points of the Monarchs at the top of the Western Conference after a display that highlighted the difference between the club from last year to this. T2 dominated much of the game, recording shots total and shots on goal than its visitors, but after a pair of missed penalty kicks and a pair of big saves elsewhere by Monarchs goalkeeper Jake Leeker it seemed the fates were conspiring against the hosts. Unlike a season ago however, when T2 would regularly play well without reward, Dairon Asprilla’s low finish after a clever dummy by Eryk Williamson to release him into the penalty area gave Portland its fourth one-goal victory of the season.
2. Whoever has been in net for Real Monarchs SLC since the start of the 2017 season, they’ve had an aptitude in denying opponents from the penalty spot. Following in the footsteps of Connor Sparrow, who saved four spot kicks a season ago, and Andrew Putna, who kept out two, Jake Leeker added his name to the list with an excellent save and recovery to keep out Dairon Asprilla in the first half. That save might have added some pressure to Renzo Zambrano’s second-half penalty kick, which rang the crossbar before going behind as Leeker went the right way again, as T2 failed to take advantage of either of its chances from the spot.
3. Aside from attempting to find a late response to Portland’s goal, the Monarchs looked uncharacteristically out of sorts for much of their visit to Providence Park as T2’s pressure and ability to dictate the play using its speed down the flanks took the air out of the sails of the Western Conference leader. With another big game coming on Tuesday night against Sacramento Republic FC at Zions Bank Stadium, there’s now a little bit of extra pressure on Real as it returns home after an attacking performance that definitely seemed to miss the influence of the absent Sebastian Velasquez.
USLSoccer.com Man of the Match
Dairon Asprilla, Portland Timbers 2 – Asprilla rebounded from his missed penalty kick in the first half to produce the finish that decided the game, a reward for a positive display throughout that saw the Colombian finish with five shots and one key pass.
Portland Timbers 2 at San Antonio FC – June 2, 8:30 p.m. ET, Toyota Field
Real Monarchs SLC vs. Sacramento Republic FC – May 29, 9 p.m. ET, Zions Bank Stadium