The match started off well for Real Salt Lake, with Alvaro Saborio striking in the seventh minute from a Kyle Beckerman cross to give RSL a 1-0 lead. But from there, the home side was put rather on the back foot, with the midfield pressing only at the midfield stripe.
RSL somehow managed to remain 1-0 up at the half, with Nick Rimando making repeated saves — including one remarkable diving stop of former RSL man and current Timbers captain Will Johnson's shot just inside the box.
The second half went somewhat according to plan, but with Portland controlling possession, the impetus turned toward restricting the impact of the Timbers on the ball. As such, RSL pushed Portland further and further back, forcing them to shift their approach.
A 78th minute goal from Joao Plata saw the affair pushed to 2-0. Receiving the ball from Alvaro Saborio at the top of the box, Plata fired home with a brilliant shot. Donovan Ricketts had nary a chance.
From there, Real Salt Lake never looked much like losing for most of the remaining time. But a 90th minute goal from Diego Valeri — one that required a deflection and a slightly fortunate header to go through — made the four minutes of stoppage a tense affair.
But finally, the whistle blew, and there were muted celebrations from the team, who are surely aware that DC United, who won their semifinal 2-0 against Chicago Fire tonight, won't be so easy a side to defeat as their league position — a woeful last in the league with only 13 points from 22 matches.