SANDY, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – Neither rain nor sleet nor snow can slow down Real Salt Lake.
Nor the Portland Timbers.
Jefferson Savorino scored the game-winning goal in the 87th minute, and Real Salt Lake is moving on to the Western Conference Semifinals with a 2-1 victory over Portland.
Real Salt Lake will now face Seattle Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m.
“I’m proud of the guys,” interim head coach Freddy Juarez said. “It wasn’t an easy game. The atmosphere was great, the fanbase was loud and it raised our spirits. So, we’re happy.”
In a wet and cold Rio Tinto Stadium, Damir Kreilach scored the first goal of the game in the 28th minute, heading in a pass from Corey Baird to give RSL a 1-0 halftime lead.
Portland, which had beaten RSL in its previous two meetings this season, found the equalizer in the 47th minute on a goal by Dairon Asprilla.
The game appeared to be heading to overtime, when Joao Plata’s crossing pass along the top of the box was deflected by Timbers defender Bill Tuiloma, but Albert Rusnak jumped over the pass, leaving Savarino unmarked inside the box to tuck home the game-winning goal.
“It was a very good team we played against, but we needed to put everything together to be able to get this win,” Savarino said. “Thank you to the fans who came out and braved these tough conditions to get a win in a playoff game.”
Nick Rimando, playing in what will most likely be his final home game, made three saves to help preserve the victory.
“I thought we played really well in the first half,” said RSL captain Kyle Beckerman. “Credit to Steve Clark. He played pretty good and had some really nice saves. In the second half, a set-piece goal gave them some confidence and momentum but we had to weather it and stay in. It was good to get that final goal.”
“We felt confident going into this,” Rimando said. “We played well in the first half. We created some opportunities and unfortunately only got one in. The second half came around, and it wasn’t that we didn’t play well, they just came out with a little bit more energy. Unfortunately, we conceded on a corner, but the guys fought hard in a crazy climate, and we were able to get that win. It feels really good. If you were here in the locker room, you would have seen how happy everyone was.”
This is the second straight year RSL has made it to the conference semifinals, having lost last year to Sporting Kansas City.