Rimando retains point for RSL in berth-clinching 0-0 draw against Portland Timbers

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake clinched a playoff berth in a match best summed up as a midfield battle tonight against Portland Timbers, with Nick Rimando the decisive difference at the end of the 0-0 draw.

The game never really entered a free-flowing state, with the midfield clogging nearly everything that took place. Kyle Beckerman, playing further forward than usual with Yordany Alvarez in the anchor role, may be partly to blame: His midfield defending was spot-on throughout, and Yordany Alvarez had one of his finest games in a Real Salt Lake uniform.

But the forward line - Findley and Saborio from the get-go with Plata entering midway through the second half - never really connected properly with the midfield, and though Luis Gil contributed a good deal of work on both sides of the ball, he was a shadow of the player Javier Morales is when we're considering his playmaker role. But on the road in a difficult environment, it is difficult to blame his contribution.

Surely the steadying force as we approach the playoffs, especially now knowing we've clinched a spot, provides a greater platform for RSL, but there's a slight sense that the Supporters Shield was up for grabs - or at least a reasonable shot at it. But with the circumstances complicated and an important goal within our grasp in the form of a playoff berth, a slightly conservative approach paid off.

Nick Rimando may be the reason it paid off, with the magnificence of his stoppage-time double save to save the result somehow the work we've grown used to. We are, as ever, lucky to have him - especially today, in the 200th regular season match he's played for the club.

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