PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Nick Rimando made five saves to fend off the surprisingly tenacious Timbers for a 0-0 draw in the season-opening match between Real Salt Lake and Portland on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake has not lost in its past six season openers, all of them on the road.
The match marked the Portland debut of Nat Borchers, who spent seven years with Salt Lake. Borchers, a two-time MLS defender of the year, was a key contributor on Salt Lake’s 2009 MLS Cup-winning team.
Portland, playing with several key players injured, also saw the debut of new goalkeeper Adam Larsen Kwarasey, signed in the offseason after playing in Norway’s top league.
RSL finished 15-8-11 last season and was knocked out by the eventual MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy in the Western Conference semifinals. It was the team’s seventh season in the playoffs, the longest active streak in MLS.
The Timbers ended up finishing 12-9-13 and just out of the playoffs. The last spot in the Western Conference wasn’t decided until after the final game: A Vancouver victory over Seattle kept Portland out of the postseason.
Portland’s season start was marked by injuries.
Captain Will Johnson, who broke his leg last season but should return in the next three or four games. Diego Valeri, who led the team last season with 11 goals and 14 assists, tore his ACL in the final match and remained sidelined following surgery.
Midfielder Ben Zemanski had surgery to repair a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Monday. He is expected to miss at least five months.
And midfielder Diego Chara wasn’t in the lineup because of what coach Caleb Porter has called a calf contusion.
Two new international additions for Real Salt Lake, Brazilian defender Pecka and Demar Phillips of Jamaica, did not play because of injuries. Forward Joao Plata continues to recover from a broken bone in his left foot.
Portland had the most chances in the match, but Rimando kept coming up with big saves.
Portland got close in the 29th minute on Dairon Asprilla’s head from about six yards out, but it sailed just wide.
The Timbers had another opportunity when Jack Jewsbury’s free kick in the 40th minute sailed into the box where Rodney Wallace got a touch, but Rimando dove on the ball to stop the threat. Portland finished the first half with six shots to Salt Lake’s three.
Rimando came up with another save in the 53rd minute on a point-blank shot from Wallace in the box. Minutes later he stopped another Wallace shot from about the endline.
Kwarasey fended off a shot from Salt Lake’s Luis Gil in the 83rd minute. Kwarasey finished with two saves.
There were five yellow cards in the match, going to Real Salt Lake’s Kenny Mansally, Gil and Chris Schuler, and Portland’s Alvas Powell and Liam Ridgewell.
Real Salt Lake is 5-2-5 against the Timbers in MLS matches overall and 1-1-4 at Providence Park.
This article was written by Anne M. Peterson from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.