Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Real Salt Lake advance to the MLS Cup Final

November 26, 2013 by  
Filed under MLS, US Soccer

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.

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