VANCOUVER (ABC4 Sports) – Real Salt Lake is going to be home for the playoffs.
RSL clinched a first round home playoff game with a 1-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps on a goal by Damir Kreilach in the 28th minute.
Real Salt Lake earns the 3-seed in the Western Conference, and will host the Portland Timbers in the first round of the playoffs at Rio Tinto Stadium Saturday, October 19th at 8:00 p.m.
“Its feels great,” said forward Corey Baird, who assisted on the goal. “Throughout the season we had goals. The first was to make the playoffs, second goal was home seed and we accomplished that. That puts us in a great position going into the post season.”
“It’s awesome for the players,” said interim head coach Freddy Juarez. “After everything that’s happened this year, the players deserve to play in front of their home crowd to back them in the playoffs. They give us the extra gas we need to succeed so now we need to go home and take advantage of being at home. We can’t let this go to waste and now we’re in a good position so it’s time to take advantage of it.”
The lone goal came in the 28th minute, when Baird sent a crossing pass into the box, which Kreilach headed in for his sixth goal of the season.
Nick Rimando made five saves to earn the clean sheet, as RSL recorded its 12th shutout of the season.
“It’s awesome,” said Rimando. “I took it in before the game and we knew the importance of this game. I thought the boys played great. For me, personally, I don’t think I’ve ever won here. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a shutout here. So to end it that way felt great.”
RSL finishes the regular season with its highest playoff seeding in five years, and its most wins (16) since 2013, when the team made it to the MLS Cup Final.
“It feels great,” said captain Kyle Beckerman. “All season we’ve just been trying to improve each week, whether we win, lose or draw. As the season went on, we did, and we put ourselves in a real good spot for these playoffs.”
Portland defeated RSL twice in the regular season, including handing Real one if its four home losses on the season.
But if RSL knocks the Timbers out, they will face either Seattle or FC Dallas in the conference semifinals.