Real Salt Lake just couldn’t get it done in Portland. Despite registering 12 shots overall and controlling 57% of possession, the Timbers rolled past the visitors by a score of 3-0, outscoring them 7-1 over the last two meetings. RSL’s playoff fate now lies in the hands of the Los Angeles Galaxy, as they easily beat Minnesota 3-1 tonight.
Next week, LA hosts the Houston Dynamo. A draw or a loss will keep RSL in the playoffs, but a win will spell the end of RSL’s season.
It didn’t take too long for the scoring to open, although it went the wrong way. The Timbers won a free kick just outside the top of the box, which Diego Valeri stepped up to take. He sent it far post and found defender Larrys Mabiala who was able to beat Marcelo Silva, and tap the ball in off the volley just past Rimando. RSL suddenly found themselves in a bad spot if they wanted to lock up playoffs today, going down 1-0 early on.
RSL saw their best chance in the 44th minute off a corner when Beckerman got a head to the ball, snapping a quick ball straight toward the net. Unfortunately it was right at Timbers ‘keeper Steve Clark who was quick to get hands to it, keeping a clean sheet for his team.
The first half saw Portland dominating the majority of the attacking play even though RSL controlled most of the possession with about 51%. The first 40 minutes or so showed barely any sign of attacking life, but near the end they had a couple decent chances and some control in the attacking third including Kyle’s near-goal header off the corner kick.
Petke and the boys went into the locker room at halftime, hoping to build on that momentum going into the second half, especially knowing that the LA Galaxy were sitting up 1-0 over Minnesota.
RSL indeed came out with a little more fire to start the second half with a little more attacking power. Justen Glad had a great look at goal early on as the ball fell to his feet with a clear shot at goal right in front of him. He took a shot from about 6 feet away from the goal, but Clark made a great save to keep the Timbers afloat as RSL started to turn up the heat.
Rusnak had another fantastic chance for the visitors as he ripped a shot from inside the box on the volley. The ball went flying in toward goal and on frame, but once again Clark was there to parry it and keep it out of the net as RSL kept searching for that elusive equalizer.
Regardless of RSL’s better play, they gave up another one in the 67th minute off a turnover in the midfield. Portland quickly went on the break, blew past Marcelo Silva near midfield and found Diego Chara streaking toward goal. Rimando came off his line to try and grab the ball from him, but Chara got past him and easily tapped the ball into the net, putting the home side up 2-0 and all but sealing up their playoff spot in the process.
It didn’t get any better for RSL as Sebastian Blanco got the home side’s third goal in the 86th minute as he found himself in a one-on-one situation with Nick Rimando, He sent it into the back of the net in the final goal of the game, confirming the Timbers’ sweep of RSL this season, outscoring them 7-1 throughout both games, while clinching their playoff spot in the process.
Now, we wait. The Galaxy beat Minnesota, so all RSL can do is sit back and watch, and hope that LA loses to Houston next week. The Timbers booked their ticket into the playoffs with tonight’s win.
27’ RSL - Kyle Beckerman - yellow card (unsporting behavior)
63’ POR - Diego Valeri - yellow card (unsporting behavior)
68’ POR - Sebastian Blanco - yellow card (dissent)
15’ POR - Larrys Mabiala (Diego Valeri)
68’ POR - Diego Chara (Sebastian Blanco)
Real Salt Lake
Rimando; Lennon, M Silva, Glad, Herrera (72’ Baird); Beckerman, Sunny (78’ Saucedo); Savarino, Rusnak, Plata; Kreilach
Bench: Putna, Onuoha, Acosta, L Silva, Saucedo, Besler, Baird
Clark; Valentin, Mabiala, Ridgewell, Villafana; Guzman (76’ Olum), Chara, Polo, Valeri, Blanco (89’ Flores), Ebobisse (85’ Melano)
Bench: Attinella, Powell, Flores, Armenteros, Melano, Olum, Tulloma