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RSL v Portland stats show winners succeed in midfield, forward control

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The four starting defenders ended with 41/80 completed passes, for 51 percent passing. My initial thought is that it's the lowest passing percentage from the defensive line all year. Still, Abdoulie Mansally completed 15 of 23 passes after coming on in the second half -- 65 percent passing -- and got forward quite well.

Nat Borchers made 18 clearances; Chris Schuler made 15. Those 33 clearances made up 59 percent of all RSL clearances through the match. It's worth noting that Timbers attempted 40 crosses, and some of the clearances came from their 33 unsuccessful crosses. But by the same token, RSL blocked 10 crosses, which surely helped protect from real damage being done.

Ned Grabavoy did not get on the ball perhaps as frequently as we'd have liked, but his passing was highly accurate -- 20/22 passes were successful. (One of his unsuccessful passes was a header, the other was a flick-on.) As a point of contrast, Luis Gil found more space but was less accurate with his passing -- 23/36 on the night. Gil had four interceptions on the right side; Tony Beltran had five on the same side.

Javier Morales completed 45 of 65 passes; four of those were key passes. That's more than any single RSL player and the second-highest on the pitch. That Morales was on the ball with such frequency illustrates why exactly Real Salt Lake was able to take handle of the match. (Also notably, Morales was successful in three tackles.)

Devon Sandoval completed 17/23 passes; Robbie Findley completed 31/36. Our forward passing is very, very rarely that accurate. The high pressure from Portland saw more pressure applied to RSL's backline than to their forwards. One's forced to wonder: Given RSL's general proclivity for retaining possession despite intense pressure at the back, why were Devon Sandoval and Robbie Findley given such time? No complaints here. (Also, Robbie Findley had two shots on target and two blocked. And, of course, one goal.)

Of the 246 passes completed by RSL (with 67 percent accuracy), only 43 percent came through the middle. Of the 368 attempted passes, 54 were backward -- well in the range of what RSL usually does, although the rate of backward passes to total passes was a bit higher than usual.