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Domineering RSL beat Portland 4-2 in home leg of Western Conference Final

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

For the second time this season, Real Salt Lake defeated Portland 4-2, but it didn't take a catastrophic tactical failure to bring it about: This time, it was the eminence of Javier Morales that created the conditions for the win.

Coping with Portland's high pressure proved difficult in the early going, but RSL seemed to be doing just enough to cope. But former RSL midfielder — and current Portland Timbers captain — Will Johnson hit a screamer of a free kick from well outside the box, and the match immediately took on a glum outlook.

Chris Schuler changed everything when he met a Javier Morales corner with his head, rising above the fray magnificently to score his second goal in as many games. With the scoreline 1-1, momentum immediately shifted.

Robbie Findley capitalized minutes later, chasing a long, hopeful ball into the path of Timbers defender Futty Danso, whose touch back to his goalkeeper was poor, and Findley beat Donovan Ricketts at his near post with a calmly slotted shot.

Devon Sandoval scored the third unanswered goal to put RSL 3-1 ahead, beating Ricketts across his goal after taking the calmest of touches from Robbie Findley's pass — a rookie move, that was not, and the pass itself was a thing of beauty from the right side of the box into Sandoval. (Correction: I'd previously written that it was Plata's pass; my memory of the goal was mistaken.)

Javier Morales completed the scoring for Real Salt Lake when he floated across the near post on a Plata-taken corner kick, losing his mark and forcing a deflection that caught Donovan Ricketts out.

Real Salt Lake conceded a second goal in stoppage time when Frederic Piquionne headed powerfully into goal from a hopeful long pass.