Jefferson Savarino scored the go-ahead goal in the 61st minute and Real Salt Lake spoiled Diego Valeri’s record-setting Saturday night with a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers.
“Big time players show up in big moments,” RSL head coach Mike Petke said of Savarino’s goal. “When just talking about attacking wise, we have easily three big-time players along the middle. Plata, Albert and Savarino and by the way all three of them have been called to their national team, Plata getting back to the national team. These guys have put the work in.”
Valeri set an MLS record by scoring in his eighth consecutive match when he tied it at 1 on a header in the 47th minute.
“Valeri is a special player, someone I respect incredibly both on the field and off the field,” Petke said. “Having him be in the league for so long I know him well enough now, but I think he’s one 100 percent in the conversation for the MVP in this league, and he should be.”
Albert Rusnak opened the scoring in the 14th minute with a right-footed blast that powered through goalkeeper Jeff Attinella’s glancing deflection. Savarino bent a left-footed shot from the edge of 18-yard box into the upper left corner.
The Timbers (12-10-8) had their four-game unbeaten streak snapped but remained near the top of the Western Conference in a three-way tie for second place. RSL (11-14-5) jumped from ninth place into a tie for sixth and final playoff position.
“We’re in fifth place at the moment, so I’ll enjoy it for the last whatever,” Petke said. “We’ll see what happens in the Houston, San Jose game.”
Atlanta, Orlando tie
ATLANTA — In front of the largest crowd to attend a stand-alone MLS match, Josef Martinez had his second hat trick in a row, and third of the season, to help Atlanta United hold on for a 3-3 draw against Orlando City Saturday.
Atlanta United (12-8-7) set the record with 70,425 on hand at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The previous record was held by the Los Angeles Galaxy for the 69,255 who attended their first-ever match at the Rose Bowl in 1996. The United’s stadium opened last month.
Martinez scored in the 36th, 55th and 69th minutes, each time tying the score after an Orlando City goal. Dom Dwyer had a pair of first-half goals and Cyle Larin made it 3-2 in the 58th minute for Orlando (9-12-8).
Martinez’s last three-goal performance came Wednesday in a 7-0 win against New England. He had his first hat trick of the season in a 6-1 win against Minnesota United March 12.
Fire 3, D.C. United 0
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. — Nemanja Nikolic tied a Chicago club record with his 18th goal of the season and the Fire beat D.C. United Saturday night.
Nikolic capped the scoring on a penalty kick in the 90th minute, matching Ante Razov’s mark set in 2000.
Chicago (14-9-6) opened the scoring in the 23rd minute on D.C. midfielder Ian Harkes’ own goal. He was attempting to clear Matt Polster’s throw-in with a header. Brandon Vincent headed home Arturo Alvarez’s cross to make it 2-0 in the 62nd.
D.C. United (8-17-4) lost its second in a row after winning three straight.