By MIKE DONOVAN
PORTLAND, Ore.- Real Salt Lake used an early goal to solidify its aggregate lead and never looked back as the club booked its spot in the MLS Cup final for the second time in franchise history.
Robbie Findley’s first-half goal was the difference as RSL defeated the host Timbers, 1-0, on Sunday night at Jeld-Wen Field. The goal also gave RSL a 5-2 advantage on aggregate and sets up a match with Sporting Kansas City in the MLS Cup final, set to take place on Dec. 7 at Sporting Park.
Findley’s goal came when Donovan Ricketts was unable to corral a Luis Gil blast. Findley beat Michael Harrington and Futty Danso to the ball and put it past a helpless Ricketts. It was a club-best sixth career playoff goal for Findley.
“I said it all year long, we brought Robbie Findley back because he’s capable of scoring goals in the biggest moments,” RSL head coach Jason Kreis said.
The goal completed an outstanding series for Findley, who had two goals and an assist in the two playoff matches against Portland.
“If Robbie’s healthy, I’ve said it for years, he makes our team a different team,” RSL captain Kyle Beckerman said. “He makes our team, the team that we want to be and that we were in ’09 and what we built from ’08.”
For Portland, Findley’s goal was due to the inability to clear a rebound after initial Ricketts’ save.
“I feel like maybe it was a little bit of a miscommunication on who was getting the ball to clear it. At the end of the day, the ball’s got to get clear, either by myself or Pa (Kah). It’s on us to not let that happen,” Michael Harrington said.
Danso had two potential goals waived off in the first half. The first came when Rodney Wallace was called for a push on the buildup to a Danso header, while Danso was offside after tapping in a saved Diego Valeri shot.
Despite a frenetic start to the match, once RSL found its goal, the match slowed down considerably. That style perfectly suited RSL, which was able to limit the Timbers to mostly half-chances for the final 60 minutes of the match.
The loss was just eighth of the season for the Portland Timbers in all competitions, but RSL proved once again to be unbeatable for the Rose City club. Portland finished the season with two draws and four losses against RSL in six matches. While the season series appears lopsided, Kreis isn’t sure why RSL has been able to thwart the Timbers so often in 2013.
“I can’t really explain it, I honestly can’t. I think the teams were very evenly matched. In every game it feels to me to be very even,” Kreis said. “We do a pretty good job of exploiting the spaces when they are there.”
The second half saw little goalmouth action with numerous Timbers shots blocked by RSL defenders. The center back tandem of Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers allowed little space for Portland’s forwards and attacking midfielders.
In a season that was filled with so many highs for Portland, the Timbers were simply unable to overcome Real Salt Lake’s solid defending and timely goals. While most coaches would be happy with a season that produced the largest turnaround in goal difference in MLS history, Porter was already looking ahead.
“Our goal is to raise trophies, first and foremost,” Porter said. “This was a great year. But again, we didn’t raise a trophy. So we’re going to keep pushing.”
Pa-Modou Kah, signed by the Timbers in May, was also already thinking about next season immediately following the match.
“We will be coming back stronger next year and we will push again to make it to the final, and this time to make it to the MLS Cup” Kah said. “We’ll take our knock today, but that should be our motivation for next season.”
Real Salt Lake heads to the MLS Cup final riding a three-game playoff winning streak after dispatching the defending champion LA Galaxy and the Western Conference No. 1 seed Portland Timbers. But before they get there, Kreis seemed satisfied with the Western Conference Championship trophy.
“I think, for me, the most rewarding thing is not about getting back to the MLS Cup. The most rewarding thing is that finally this group has won a trophy, another trophy. Frankly, in my eyes, this team deserves more trophies than they have. They’ve put themselves in a position to win so many times and just been unfortunate not to,” Kreis said. “So I think this is a very deserved trophy for what we’ve done over the regular season and certainly in the playoffs, but more so for what we’ve done for five years.”
Props to RSL, good luck in the final. I expect an entertaining game between my 2nd and 3rd favorite teams. My favorite team needs to learn how to handle RSL next year!
Excellent video of the Timbers reaction.
*became. (don’t drink at the office, BBB)
I was hoping Portland would win in front of that fantastic crowd, but dice. The thing that surprised me most about the game was what a Nat Borchers I become. That guy put in a great shift.
RSL shows some of the future of USMNT soccer. I believe that RSL has two key solutions to recent problems with the USMNT. Schuler is a big physical presence at CB that is athletic enough to run with people, win balls in the air and also distributes well. Once he can stay healthy and establish himself, he should be in the conversation with Omar Gonzales at CB.
The other missing piece is Luis Gil. Even though he doesn’t play it often for RSL because of Morales, Gil is the type of true #10 that the USMNT has not seen in awhile. He plays out of position for RSL but has great vision, feet and makes smart runs. I think the USMNT has missed a true distributor CAM type for a long time. Gil showed in the under 20 WC that he is a star. He was the only guy on the team that looked like he really fit in against the best of the best.
Gil and Schuler most likely will not make it to Brazil, but they should definitely be on the radar and make it into the camp. Who knows, they may be playing for their current coach, Jason Kreis, as the next USMNT manager after this WC cycle.
Lots of sour grapes in Portland! The irony of other fan bases complaining about RSL not playing attractive soccer is almost too much for my brain to handle. RSL completely manhandled Portland all year and especially in the first leg. There was no reason for RSL to open it up and spread it out in the second leg. With all that said, they still created at least as many true goal scoring opportunities as Portland despite being on the road and up big in the aggregate. It was far from bunkering down.
It is nice to see two teams that really play soccer and have earned their spots playing in the final this year. Both SKC and RSL play attractive soccer with a lot of passing. They also have the two best CAMs in the league and plenty of depth because they don’t chase star DPs. It should be entertaining. As an RSL fan, I am very surprised to see us in the final given what we gave up in the off season. Most RSL fans thought of this as a rebuilding year after Olave, Johnson, Espindola and others were all shown the door in favor of youth. The youngsters have stepped up big with Gil, Shuler, Plata, Garcia, Velasquez and Sandoval all playing major minutes. The key is that the spine of the team is spectacular and experienced with Borchers, Beckerman, Morales and Saborio. Even without Saborio for the majority of the year, RSL has found a way to shine.
Schuler for usmnt? He looked pretty solid back there like gooch. What do yall think?
Go to bed bro.
Is it possible that RSL will lose two finals in the same year? That will almost be as painful as losing their coach after the game. If I weren’t a Sporting KC fan, I would cheer for RSL. In any case, it should be a good game with a lot of good story lines. It’s a classic MLS matchup without global stars, but lots of MLS stars on both teams.
How can this be? Wasn’t soccer invented in Portland? Or was that Seattle?
RSL 2, SKC 1.
England claims to have invented soccer and they aren’t any good either…..
Wait till next year, Sounders will crush MLS……
^^^ LOL !!!
You Noisers say that every year…and yet…
meant to watch this game, but forgot it was on. well MLS scheduling, a detriment to MLS
Wait — you forgot, and it’s MLS’s fault? Criticize the scheduling all you want, but it’s hard to see how MLS is responsible here.
Finally two deserving teams in the Final. I think I might actually enjoy watching this one. Both teams deserve Champions League football as well.
can’t wait to see Nagbe play next for the nats next WC cycle.
I hope not.
I like nagbe but if he’s going to be on the US first thing he has to do is get his citizenship. I understand the clock is going for his application. We can debate if he’s NT team material when that happens.
He can do it against my Timbers but not in the World Cup against Ghana??
Findley, you suck!! 🙁
Great year from my Timbers.
MLS parity cup 🙂
Did anybody watch ligaMX playoffs, they have high intensity and make sense since they have split seasons and they don’t play the national anthem till the final, since not everybody is mexican in the league.
MLS needs to figure out the playoffs and do not play the national anthem for any game till MLS parity cup.
Imagine the EPL playing the uk anthem, it would start a war in the stands, or the French league or Italian…….and the list is long
din’t your favorite team lose?
El Paso, go to bed, you’re drunk
soccer rules in el paso tx
This is certainly the biggest problem facing the league right now. Thanks.
While it might be silly to play the national anthem, it is pretty much the standard for an American sporting event, from high school up. Some things are not worth changing.
I live in the Dominican Republic. Here they play their national anthem before every baseball game, even though the Dominican winter league contains many other nationalities. I love the passion they have for their country, and i see the same in most countries of the world. I never think its silly to honor your country and those who have or are sacrificing for it. But then again i am not in El paso, nor am i drunk. Have a great one!
All fairness 3 of the 4 semifinalists are pretty regular so while there is general parity they must be being rewarded for something. It can’t quite be complete equity and nothing but chance if Houston, KC, RSL, and some others are regulars at one end and Chivas and TFC are regularly doormats. Even though I criticize Houston for not figuring out how to win it all again, we’ve got making the playoffs sorted.
Rsl played boring, typical of them and they wont win mls cup vs skc. I just think the break hurt timbers, they got to relax and.a little too confident. Timbers thought, they would score first and bring the house down on real salt lake but like i said, the break was too long and you can tell the energy was wasted or burned during the break. As fir timbers, keep your head up and maybe another foward can help next year.
But real salt lake wont win, (ugly name by the way) rsl will have to open and skc will destroy them, dwyer sapong benny and crazy french guy will defend like a warrior.
Skc 4, rsl 0.
By the way, MLS give the conference trophy to the conference season top team !!!!!!!! Red bull and timbers deserved their conference trophy, besides supporters shield.
Then give the team a semifinal ir final four spot.
Its a long season, and timbers didnt even get a trophy even though they got the most points in the west and red bull as well.
By the way, make them knock out games and everybody will watch and players will play to win.
Whats the point of having a long season?
MLS needs to figure out the playoffs
Serious question-does everybody in El Paso have the same incoherent, rambling, writing style or do you just post under a different El Paso name every time?
believe he cycles through names
This is not a college.english on line course right 🙂 relax, so many thoughts and too little time. Cheers mr.english grammar professor
He didn’t say anything about grammar. “Incoherent, rambling” – a.k.a. basic logic and thinking skills. Your dual responses to his comment, five minutes apart, actually highlight his point perfectly.
Calm down there fella 🙂
Yolo and.shut it, express yourself towards soccer, not people.
By the way stop reading the dictionary and get laid n drink some good pumpkin beer. 🙂 cheers
You just used “yolo” in sentence. You done jumped the shark, son.
Silly to think Portland deserved a participation trophy for having more points in the regular season, as if that was a better measure of success. On one hand, you have RSL, which was arguably more affected by national team duties this year than any other team (Rimando, Beckerman, and Saborio all year, and Beltran as well for the Gold Cup) vs. Portland, who was probably the least affected of any team in the league (anyone?). Clearly, Utah had the tougher path this year and managed it well. Not to denigrate Portland in any way. I like watching Portland, and Will Johnson will always be a favorite from his time in Utah. But after owning Portland this year, does anyone really think they are better than RSL?
Until MLS teams have a higher cap and more depth (which won’t happen until the league is done expanding), it would be foolish to put more weight on the points race. You already saw teams complaining about call-ups, and it would only get worse if your suggestions were foolishly taken seriously.
will johnson and rodney wallace for gold cup and world cup qualifying, ryan johnson, donovan ricketts, and alvas powell for wcq.
My head. It hurts.
RSL does it again! Back to MLS Cup in a hostile environment this time. Playing away doesn’t fase this team. Two weeks to prepare to win that second star over the crest.
C’mon RSL! One more win!
SKC seems to have RSL’s number and lost to them 2-1 @ home. But I just watched some highlights from the match earlier this year – forgot Aaron Maund was playing (not even Carlos Salcedo). Obviously RSL is better defensively (and offensively) with Schuler