SANDY, Utah (AP) - Javier Morales and Fabian Espindola both scored in the first half to lead Real Salt Lake to a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers on Saturday night.
Real Salt Lake (15-11-4) became the second club in MLS history to get at least 15 wins in three straight seasons and secured a spot in the playoffs for the fifth straight year.
“I think it was important that we got a really important goal from Fabian Espίndola and Javier Morales," said head coach Jason Kreis. "All in all, I think that we got some big time plays from a couple of big time players there in the attacking end of the field.”
“I always try to be aggressive," said Morales. "Sometimes you can do it and sometimes not. Today I think we made a pretty good first half, and the second half we got a little bit tired and we didn’t do a good job.”
Bright Dike scored in the 61st minute for the Timbers (7-15-8), who remained winless on the road.
Espindola put Salt Lake on the board in the 14th minute and Morales made it 2-0 in the 36th.
Real Salt Lake played without leading scorer Alvaro Saborio after he suffered a shoulder injury in the team's 1-0 victory over Tauro FC in Panama on Tuesday. Saborio, second in MLS with 14 goals, is expected to be sidelined at least two to four weeks.
“I think there are a lot of positives to take away from this game," said midfielder Will Johnson. "It was a little disappointing to let them back into the game after we played some really good stuff with the ball. I thought we were excellent, but we just had a couple turnovers and they had a couple chances and they could have tied the game up in the end, so we just have to be a little more precise, but I thought it was one of our better performances of late, so that is a positive thing to build on.”
“I guess we should be proud of it," added Kreis about making the playoffs again. "I wouldn’t really say I knew that until you said it, but it’s pretty cool, we booked our playoff trip tonight too, right? For five years in a row. We are obviously doing some things right, and we do need to occasionally stop and smell the roses I guess, and appreciate the hard work the guys are putting in, and it’s a lesson for me maybe to not be so critical all the time.”
RSL next plays at Chivas USA September 29th on CW-30.