And the second half was just as eventful. Three total goals in the second frame resulted in a wild 3-3 draw between RSL and the Timbers in downtown Portland Thursday evening. RSL remains unbeaten this preseason at 2-0-1.
For the second time this preseason, RSL was involved in a VAR (video assistant referee) review. And for RSL, it turned into scintillating free kick goal by Joao Plata. Referee Sorin Stoica stopped play after RSL forward Yura Movsisyan's long-range shot was saved by goalkeeper Jake Gleeson. Once Stoica went to the replay booth on the sideline, he later sent off Timbers midfielder Diego Chara for an elbow to the head of Movsisyan.
"I didn't really expect anything from the referee," Movsisyan said. "I was shocked as their player was. I think it was a late swing. I don't think he meant to go to my ear. I even told the ref, 'Listen, it's a preseason game, let's keep 11 players on the field. We don't need a red card. Let them take a substitute.' It's interesting. It just needs time to get used to this whole video pause."
RSL was also awarded a free kick, which Plata buried over the Portland wall, equalizing the score 1-1 in the 42nd minute. That came seven minutes after Portland took a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute due to Portland midfielder Diego Valeri cleaning up a kick-save by RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando. That handball came just seconds after RSL rookie center back Justin Schmidt recovered in time to clear what would've been a tap-in for new Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco.
Minutes after RSL knotted the score, Movsisyan was wrongly ruled offside on what would've been a goal to put RSL up 2-1. Instead, the offside flag was raised. Valeri later put the Timbers ahead 2-1, scoring from the penalty spot after Stoica whistled a hand ball on RSL midfielder Jordan Allen in the box.
"I think it could be positive if it's done the right way," Movsisyan said of the replay system set to be implemented in MLS this summer. "If we're doing video replay, then there should've been a replay on my goal. We just need to find consistency, and I know it's difficult for the refs."
RSL coach Jeff Cassar said defensively the team was a little too loose in the back for his liking, even this early in preseason.
"When we got stretched and they were able to play through us, we were vulnerable," he said. "These are great exercises. It says we're not quite there yet, but when we do it the way we want to, it's successful."
Portland padded its lead seven minutes into the second half as forward Darren Mattocks ran onto a header into the box by Jack Barmby, beat RSL center backs Aaron Maund and Schmidt, and fired a shot into the goal to put the Timbers up 3-1. Two minutes later, RSL midfielder Luke Mulholland sliced a low volley into the net to cut the deficit to 3-2 in the 54th minute.
"Just waiting for it to pop out to me," Mulholland said. "I like hitting bombs from that range. Just happy I made good contact and kept it on frame. I'll try not to use too many of those in preseason and save them for the real season."
Omar Holness scored a nearly-identical goal to Mulholland's, slicing a one-time volley from outside the box by former RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella in the 67th minute.
RSL made wholesale changes in the 61st minute, changing out the rest of its starting lineup after Rimando was taken out at halftime for goalkeeper Lalo Fernandez. New RSL Designated Player Albert Runsák played the most minutes of his young MLS preseason after making his debut in Tuscon, Ariz., last week.
"I just love the way he plays the game," Cassar said. "It's correct, it's clean, it's smooth, it's calming, but he plays at a pace that keeps the game going forward, and I think he's going to do really well for our team."
Four players did not make an appearance Thursday night.
Captain Kyle Beckerman remains sidelined with a bone bruise in his left knee. Defender Chris Schuler is expected to start Sunday against Vancouver alongside new signing David Horst, Cassar said. Chris Wingert was a healthy scratch, while midfielder Luis Silva suffered a slight adductor aggravation, but is expected to play at least 60 minutes Sunday.