Real Salt Lake scored four consecutive goals en route to a 4-2 win over the Portland Timbers Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Salt Lake opened the match giving up a goal to Will Johnson on a knuckling free kick, but responded with strikes from Chris Schuler, Robbie Findley, Devon Sandoval, and Javier Morales to take a daunting lead in the Western Conference Finals.
The victory means Salt Lake will advance to MLS Cup unless it loses by two goals in Portland on November 24th. Even a two goal loss in that match would simply mean extra time and the possibility of a shoot-out. It would take a three goal loss for Jason Kreis’ men to lose in regulation.
While the match ended up as a high scoring affair, it didn’t look like it would right at the start of the match.
The sides came out a bit tense, though Portland’s early energy was able to disrupt Salt Lake’s possession game. Neither side was able to create a good chance until a 12th minute Robbie Findley cross was put out of bounds by Futty Danso to prevent a sitter for Morales.
Portland scored the first goal of the night with Johnson’s free kick that beat Nick Rimando in the 14th minute. That gave Portland a lead and created some urgency for Salt Lake.
Real Salt Lake continued to attack and was eventually rewarded on a corner kick in the 36th minute. Chris Schuler got up into the air and headed home Morales’ service into the bottom left corner of the net.
Salt Lake continued to be dangerous on set pieces. Nat Borchers got into the action in the 39th minute when a failed corner kick attempt was served back into the box by Beckerman. Borchers put a shot on frame and then missed the rebound just over the bar.
Salt Lake scored again in the 41st minute when Robbie Findley picked off a poor back pass from Danso and beat Donovan Ricketts. That gave Salt Lake a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.
Salt Lake came out attacking to start the second half, which paid off in the 48th minute when Sandoval took a pass from Findley at the top of the six yard box, turned and finished past Ricketts to give Salt Lake a two goal lead.
Luis Gil nearly added another in the 81st minute when he flicked service from Morales at the top right corner of the net, forcing Ricketts to make an impressive diving save. Morales headed home the resulting Joao Plata corner kick to give Salt Lake a three goal lead.
However, the lead would not hold. Portland pulled back a goal in the 94th minute when Jack Jewsbury sent in a cross that Frederic Piquionne finished.
Salt Lake now has a week off during an international window and will play the return leg in Portland on November 24th.
Category: Game Review