Real Salt Lake left it until the end of the season to secure a spot in the playoffs, but a victory over Portland Timbers was enough to record a berth. And despite some early nerves, the team put fears to rest and secured a 3-1 victory that knocked Portland out of contention.
The huge Decision Day match-up saw an important opener from Jefferson Savarino, returning to goalscoring form playing on the left wing. His goal was a thing of beauty, curling a shot in to the far post after cutting in from the wing. It was a trademark Savarino move, and the finish was just perfection embodied.
The second half started with nerves quickly settled, owing to a goalscoring effort from Rubio Rubin. His finish was deflected, but the scoreline doesn’t care about deflections, and one wouldn’t imagine Rubin himself was particularly disappointed about that. It was, after all, his first goal on the year, and it was his first start after sitting out two consecutive games.
The final goal came in unexpected fashion, but the finish itself was as neat as you like. Bode Hidalgo, on for his longest MLS appearance to date after entering in the 58th minute, finished convincingly on the back of a Jasper Löffelsend pass from the vaunted “assist zone,” cutting in from the touchline.
RSL next travels to Austin at the end of the week, with the match taking place either Saturday or Sunday. Details should be forthcoming on that schedule.