PORTLAND (ABC4 Sports) – The improbable run by Real Salt Lake has come to an end.
After staging three consecutive dramatic finishes to get to the Western Conference Final, RSL loses to the Portland Timbers, 2-0.
The Timbers won all four meetings against RSL by a combined score of 14-4.
Portland took control of the game in the 5th minute when Felipe Mora took advantage of a poor clearance by Aaron Herrera and beat RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa to give the Timbers a 1-0 lead.
It stayed that way until the 61st minute when Santiago Moreno got off a spectacular shot to the corner of the net that bounced off the post and off Ochoa’s back to give Portland a commanding 2-0 lead.
Despite the return of captain Albert Rusnak, who missed the first two playoff victories because of Covid, RSL could not mount any kind of sustained offensive attack. The situation really turned bleak when Herrera was handed his second yellow card, and RSL had to play a man down for the final 11 minutes.
Portland out-shot Real Salt Lake 14-7, and put seven shots on frame compared to three for RSL.
Steve Clark made three saves for Portland to earn the shutout. The Timbers will play either Philadelphia or NYCFC for the MLS Cup next Saturday on ABC4.
It was still an incredible late-season run by RSL, who scored in the final 30 seconds to beat Sporting KC just to get into the playoffs on the final game of the regular season. Real Salt Lake then beat Seattle on penalty kicks after failing to register a single shot. Then last week, Bobby Wood scored the game-winning goal in stoppage time to upset Sporting KC.
This upcoming off-season appears to be busy one for RSL, who is expected to try to keep Pablo Mastroeni as its permanent head coach. Rusnak is in a contract year, while the team could be bought in the coming months as Major League Soccer orchestrates a sale.