In the 79th minute, with the score 2-2, the Portland Timbers might have been happy to walk away from Wednesdsay night's home match against Real Salt Lake with a draw.
In the 80th minute, though, Real Salt Lake midfielder Yordany Alvarez was red-carded for a reckless tackle, giving the Timbers a man advantage.
The Timbers attacked Real Salt Lake, going for the jugular. And they got what they wanted when substitute midfielder Kalif Alhassan scored in the 86th minute.
In stoppage time, though, Portland defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste failed to clear a ball in the box and RSL's Cole Grossman sent a shot into the back of the net.
Like thieves in the night, Real Salt Lake had stolen a 3-3 draw and the Timbers had missed an opportunity to gain a share of first place in the MLS Western Conference.
Portland (9-3-12, 39 points) is tied with the Colorado Rapids for second. Real Salt Lake (12-8-6, 42 points) remains first.
If were being honest, were all pretty gutted not to get that three points, Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. It was in our hands. We did a heck of a job battling back in the second half. Thats soccer. It can be cruel.
The failure to clear the ball was Jean-Baptistes second huge mistake of the match. In the 43rd minute, he committed a foul in the box that led to a penalty kick.
The Timbers jumped on Real Salt Lake early. Portland pushed the ball up the pitch and gave itself numerous chances to score.
Portlands knocks on the door were answered in the 24th minute, when midfielder Diego Valeri continued looking like the John Stockton of MLS.
Valeri lined up for a free kick on the left side, about 40 yards
out from goal. Valeri sent a dime into the 6-yard box. The ball found midfielder Rodney Wallace and, with Salt Lake goalkeeper Jeff Attinella out of position, all Wallace had to do was put his head on the ball and send it down the middle of the goal.
It was a great ball from Valeri, Wallace said. I created a little space between me and the defender, and I put the ball in the net.
It was Valeris 11th assist of the season and the seventh consecutive Timbers goal that he had set up.
Real Salt Lake found the equalizer in the 38th minute. Midfielder Javier Morales took possession of the ball on the right side,
just in front of the end line. Morales sent a cross into the middle of the 18-yard box. Alvarez was able to get on the end of the cross and send a shot toward goal.
Goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts was there to make the save on the low shot. Ricketts spilled the ball into the box, though. RSL defender Nat Borchers collected the rebound and tapped the ball into the back of the net.
Real Salt Lake took the lead in the 43rd minute after Jean-Baptiste committed another serious mental lapse in a season that has been filled with them.
RSL midfielder Khari Stephenson took a shot from distance. While Ricketts was able to make the save, he once again spilled the ball back into the box. Morales got the rebound 16 yards from goal. As he began dribbling, Morales was horse-collared by Jean-Baptiste and fell to the ground.
Referee Ricardo Salazar awarded RSL a PK.
There was a hold by the defender on the attacker, Salazar said, through a pool reporter. That classifies as one of the nine penal fouls, so inside the penalty area the decision is a penalty kick.
Morales lined up for the PK. As he approached the ball, he stutter-stepped and got Ricketts to dive to the right. Morales put the ball down the middle of the goal and Salt Lake had a 2-1 lead that it took into halftime.
After we scored that first goal, the mentality went down a little bit, Timbers defender Michael Harington said.
In the 56th minute, the Timbers tied the match after they were awarded a penalty kick of their own.
Wallace was trying to chase down a ball in the box. RSL defender Tony Beltran tried to catch up with Wallace and slow him down. As he gave chase, Beltrans hand made connection with the ball. Although the replay showed that Beltran very
well may have touched the ball inadvertently during the normal course of his running, Salazar made the call against Salt Lake and gave the Timbers the PK.
Valeri lined up for the penalty kick and sent the ball to the left side of the goal as Attinella dove right.
In the 79th minute, Alvarez was sent off with a straight red card when he tried to challenge Timbers midfielder Diego Chara for the ball. Alvarez missed the
ball completely, hitting only Charas leg. Chara stayed down for a long time, but eventually rose and was able to finish the match.
Portland spent the final 10 minutes of the match chasing the go-ahead goal.
The Timbers got their opportunity in the 86th minute. Defender Alvas Powell sent a ball into the box for Jose Adolfo Valencia. The Timbers striker was being marked closely, but he was able to redirect the ball to the middle of the box.
Alhassan slipped in behind the RSL defense unmarked and knocked a shot just inside the left post to give the Timbers the 3-2 lead.
The Timbers then gave up the equalizer during the six minutes of stoppage time. After Jean-Baptiste failed to clear the ball and Grossman put a shot inside the right post, the announced sellout crowd of 20,674 at Jeld-Wen Field was forced to go home with its spirits crushed.
"'Drew' ended up playing a negative pass to Ricketts, and Ricketts mis-cleared it, Porter said. We had another mis-clearance (by Jean-Baptiste), and it was kind of like a mis-hit shot that squeaked in. Most goals are scored with multiple mistakes.
The Timbers will have another crack at RSL Aug. 30 in Utah. Before that, Portland will continue its grueling week on Sunday with a game at the Seattle Sounders.
We dont have time to be too disappointed, Porter said. We have a big game on Sunday. We cant have a hangover. We need to move on quickly and move on to Seattle.