PORTLAND – Real Salt Lake (West #2) advanced to MLS Cup 2013 on Sunday night, beating the Portland Timbers (West #1) 1-0 (5-2) in the Western Conference Championship series second leg to move to the Dec. 7 final at Eastern Conference champions Sporting Kansas City.
RSL entered Sunday’s decisive second leg with a two-goal lead following the side’s 4-2 first leg win over Portland at Rio Tinto Stadium on Nov. 10. That advantage was never in much danger on Sunday night, with RSL FW Robbie Findley scoring his sixth career MLS Cup Playoff goal in the 29th minute to give the Claret-and-Cobalt a three-goal aggregate cushion. The RSL defense did the rest of the work, holding the Timbers to a mere two shots on goal to preserve the shutout and take the Utah side to its second-ever MLS Cup.
The sides traded chances early. Portland had the first opportunity, with DF Pa Modou Kah heading a corner kick wide of the right post from 10 yards out in the second minute. RSL FW Devon Sandoval had the Claret-and-Cobalt’s opportunity, heading a MF Javier Morales free kick off the turf and just over the bar in the fifth.
Portland had a goal disallowed in the 15th minute. Former RSL MF Will Johnson swerved a corner kick from the right side to FW Rodney Wallace at the back post. Wallace knocked a header to the top of the six, where DF Futty Danso powered a header home to send the Timbers Army into hysterics. Their joy was short-lived, however, with referee Mark Geiger whistling for an apparent foul on Wallace to bring the goal back.
Timbers Head Coach Caleb Porter was forced to make his first change in the 27th minute, removing injured FW Frederic Piquionne and bringing on FW Maximiliano Urruti.
Findley scored in the 29th minute to extend RSL’s aggregate advantage to 5-2. MF Luis Gil made the play, picking up the ball in the middle of Portland’s third and slaloming toward goal before firing a low 20-yard effort on frame. Timbers GK Donovan Ricketts made the initial save, but couldn’t hold the rebound, allowing Findley to slice past his defender and slot the ball inside the near post from 10 yards out.
Danso had a second goal disallowed in the 33rd minute. MF Diego Valeri collected a long ball at the penalty spot, brilliantly taking it down with his chest before turning and firing a shot on frame that RSL GK Nick Rimando expertly saved. Danso tapped the rebound home, but was correctly ruled offside.
Portland had to make a second substitution due to injury in first half stoppage time, with Wallace coming off for FW Kalif Alhassan.
RSL put on a clinic in the second half, closing out the match in textbook fashion. The Claret-and-Cobalt took the sting out of the Timbers, holding the ball well and not allowing any clear cut opportunities.
Real Salt Lake will return to Salt Lake City on Monday before resuming training later this week. The team will take time off for the Thanksgiving holiday before heading to Kansas City in the middle of next week ahead of MLS Cup at Sporting Park on Dec. 7. RSL and Kansas City met once in the 2013 regular season, with the 10-man Claret-and-Cobalt giving up a goal in the 97th minute to fall 2-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20. Real Salt Lake’s last game at Kansas City came on April 14, 2012, with RSL falling 1-0 to SKC at Sporting Park.
Real Salt Lake Match Notes – RSL 1-0 (5-2) POR
- With tonight’s 1-0 win over Portland Timbers and overall 5-2 aggregate score, Real Salt Lake has advanced to MLS Cup for the second time in the club’s nine-season history. Real Salt Lake will face Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in MLS Cup 2013 on Dec. 7. The last time RSL advanced to MLS Cup was in 2009 where the Claret-and-Cobalt defeated LA Galaxy 5-4 on penalty kicks at Qwest Field in Seattle.
- Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City met once this year in MLS regular season play, a 2-1 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 20. Real Salt Lake went down a man in the 66th minute when DF Chris Wingert was shown a second yellow card, and gave up a late goal in the 97th minute to fall to Sporting KC. Claret-and-Cobalt FW Robbie Findley was RSL’s lone goal scorer in the match, giving the Utah side a short-lived one goal lead in the 56th minute.
- Tonight’s match was the second playoff meeting between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers. RSL went 4-0-2 against Portland in all competitions this year, with a 1-0-2 mark in MLS regular season play. Real Salt Lake is unbeaten in its last ten matches across all competitions against Portland. RSL is 7-1-3 all-time against the Oregon side, with the Claret-and-Cobalt’s lone loss against the Timbers coming in the first-ever meeting between the sides at JELD-WEN Field on April 30, 2011. RSL now has posts a 2-1-2 record at JELD-WEN Field all-time.· With RSL’s sole goal tonight, RSL FW Robbie Findley now has six career goals in MLS Playoff action and remains Real Salt Lake’s all-time leading scorer in the postseason.
- RSL had a very diverse attack against Portland this year, with nine different players scoring and seven different players assisting in the Utah side’s six matches against the Timbers in 2013. RSL MF Javier Morales leads the way for RSL with three goals, followed by FW Alvaro Saborio and FW Robbie Findley with two goals each, while FW Devon Sandoval, MF Luis Gil, DF Chris Schuler, DF Nat Borchers and MF Cole Grossman all have one tally against the Cascadia club. Captain Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Joao Plata lead the way for RSL with three assists against the Timbers each; Grabavoy, Gil, Findley and Saborio all have one assist against Portland.
- Rookie FW Devon Sandoval recorded his second-straight playoff start tonight, starting in place of injured FW Alvaro Saborio.
- RSL MF Ned Grabavoy returned to the starting lineup tonight after being injured in the Western Conference Semifinal first leg at LA Galaxy. The midfielder previously made an appearance in the 86th minute in the Western Conference Championship first leg against Portland at Rio Tinto Stadium on Nov. 10.
- Chris Wingert missed tonight’s match due to a fractured rib and pneumothorax that he suffered in the first leg against Portland at Rio Tinto Stadium on Nov. 10.
- With tonight’s full shifts, Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando have played all 1,710 minutes in RSL’s 18-game playoff history.
REAL SALT LAKE 1–0 PORTLAND TIMBERS
SUNDAY, NOV. 24, 2013
Goals by Period 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 0 1
Portland Timbers 0 0 0
RSL – Robbie Findley – 29’
RSL – Lovel Palmer (Yellow; Foul) – 7’
RSL – Chris Schuler (Yellow; Foul) – 55’
RSL – Devon Sandoval (Yellow; Time wasting) – 84’
POR – Pa-Madou Kah (Yellow; Foul) – 85’
Real Salt Lake (4-1-2-1-2): Nick Rimando; Lovel Palmer (Abdoulie Mansally, 59’), Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Tony Beltran; Kyle Beckerman (C), Luis Gil, Javier Morales, Ned Grabavoy (Sebastian Velasquez, 90’); Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval (Olmes Garcia, 85’)
Substitutes not used: Jeff Attinella, Brandon McDonalad, Cole Grossman, Joao Plata
Portland Timbers (4-3-3): Donovan Ricketts; Jack Jewsbury (Ryan Johnson, 71’), Mamadou Danso, Pa Madou Kah, Michael Harrington; Diego Chara, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri; Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace (Kalif Alhassan, 45 + 1’), Frederic Piquionne (Maximiliano Urruti, 27’)
Substitutes not used: Milos Kocic, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Ben Zemanski, Sal Zizzo
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Sean Hurd, Corey Parker
4th Official: Jair Marrufo
Weather: Clear and 43 degrees