Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySoccer World DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
RSL takes revamped squad into MLS Cup
by Ridge Mahoney, November 25th, 2013 1:35AM

MOST READ
TAGS:  mls, portland timbers, real salt lake

MOST COMMENTED

[MLS PLAYOFFS: Portland-Real Salt Lake] The MLS Western Conference title came down to two teams that went through very different turnarounds in 2013, and in the end, experience prevailed. Leading, 4-2, from the first leg, and not fazed by a typically frenzied Portland crowd at Jeld-Wen Field, Real Salt Lake fended off the Timbers and notched an insurance goal by Robbie Findley to win the match, 1-0, and the series two games to none.

RSL advances, 5-2, on aggregate to its second MLS Cup title game Dec. 7 at Sporting Kansas City. It beat the Galaxy on penalty kicks to win the 2009 crown. Portland ends 2013 with the Western Conference regular-season championship and its first MLS playoff appearance, yet as the loser in four of six meetings against RSL this year in all competitions.

Findley, who returned to RSL last January as part of a major makeover, pounced on the rebound of a saved Luis Gil shot in the 29th minute to increase the aggregate lead to 5-2. Defenders Pa Modou Kah and Michael Harrington were close enough the clear the rebound but Findley got to it first and stuck it away. Portland thus needed three goals to stay alive in the series, and seldom looked threatening enough to manage that feat.

“I’ve said it all year long," said RSL coach Jason Kreis, "that we brought Robbie Findley back because he’s capable of scoring a goal in the biggest moments. We’ve had forwards over the past couple of years that, frankly, score the goals in the soft games, but not necessarily when all the chips are down. Robbie’s waited for the exact right time to find his best form, for sure.”

Eastern Conference: Sporting KC-Houston

Portland defender Mamadou ‘Futty’ Danso scored on a rebound as well just a few minutes later, but he was clearly a yard offside when Diego Valeri took his shot and the goal didn’t stand. He’d also been denied a goal in the 15th minute, when a pushing foul by Rodney Wallace on Lovel Palmer preceded Danso’s redirection into the net.

Though the Timbers took 18 shots, only Valeri’s and one other attempt required a save from RSL keeper Nick Rimando, who was ably fronted by as many as seven or eight players when Portland pushed forward. Valeri, bothered by an adductor injury since August, took six shots but only that one saved attempt hit the frame.

Portland also lost two players, Wallace and starting forward Frederic Piquionne, to injuries during the first half. Kalif Alhassan replaced Wallace and Maximilliano Urruti took over for Piquionne. Neither replacement was able to significantly influence the game. The Timbers lacked the composure to find the target with their shots and though driven on by their fans were not as crisp as their opponents.

An efficient RSL midfield controlled play for long periods and when defending forced Portland to launch balls into the penalty area, where centerbacks Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers kept the airspace clear with powerful clearances. Except for Darlington Nagbe, who breezed past challenges into the goalmouth occasionally, Portland’s attackers shot poorly or hit hurried passes.

Midway through the second half, Nagbe veered inside from the left flank and cut back a ball that Will Johnson, scorer of nine goals during the regular season, sliced well wide. Rimando easily covered Urruti’s one shot on goal in the final minutes.




The game showcased those players chosen by head coach Jason Kreis and his staff to replace forward Fabian Espindola and defender Jamison Olave, both traded to New York, and Will Johnson. Findley took the forward spot alongside Alvaro Saborio, whose own absences opened the door for Devon Sandoval, who played all 180 minutes of the conference finals. Schuler took over for Olave. Gil got most of the starts in relief of Johnson but three other players also contributed.

Defeat didn’t prevent the Timbers Army from setting off flares, serenading their players, and chanting “P-T-F-C” long after the final whistle. Their team improved 23 points from 2012, won the conference, and knocked out bitter rival Seattle in its first MLS playoff series. This time, the fairy tale fell just short.

Portland’s elimination means that neither regular-season conference champion will play in MLS Cup. Instead, runner-ups Sporting Kansas City and RSL shall contest the title game.



Nov. 24 in Portland, Ore.
Portland 0 Real Salt Lake 1. Goal: Findley 29.
Real Salt Lake -- Rimando; Beltran, Schuler, Borchers, Palmer (Mansally 60); Beckerman, Gil, Grabavoy (Velasquez 90), Morales; Findley, Sandoval (Garcia 86).
Portland -- Ricketts, Jewsbury (R.Johnson 72), Danso, Kah, Harrington, Chara, Valeri, W. Johnson, Nagbe, Wallace (Alhassan 45), Piquionne (Urruti 26).
Yellow Cards: Portland -- Kah 85; Real Salt Lake -- Palmer 7, Schuler 55, Sandoval 84,
Referee: Armando Villarreal.
Att.: 20,674.


1 comment
  1. Paul Stierle
    commented on: November 25, 2013 at 7:54 p.m.
    Portland had an amazing season and love their TEAM work, I did predict though half way thru the season it sohuls be KC against Satl Lake. My dark Horse teams were New York and Portland. I hope the sounders can get thier TEam work together next year. No prediction for final though. Both are equally strong though KC has the home field edge.


Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
USL Friday: Switchbacks romp in snow storm    
An April snow storm socked the Rockies on Friday night, but it couldn't stop the Colorado ...
MLS Friday: Red Bulls set standard high    
The New York Red Bulls remained unbeaten with a 2-0 win over the San Jose Earthquakes ...
What They're Saying: Dominic Kinnear    
"Us passing to them didn't help." -- San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear on what made the ...
USA-Mexico watched by almost 4.5 million fans    
Wednesday's USA-Mexico game averaged almost 4.5 million viewers on Spanish-language networks UniMas and UDN and Fox ...
NWSL Weekend: Sky Blue FC aims to extend streak    
It's a big weekend for pro soccer in the New York metropolitan area. New York City ...
NASL Weekend: Cosmos greats return for Raul home debut    
The New York Cosmos open their third season at home on Saturday, and they'll have special ...
USL Thursday: Sounders 2 fall, Rhinos impress on road    
Sounders FC 2, one of three unbeaten and untied teams in the USL, dropped its first ...
What They're Saying: Luis Figo    
"When some speak and others are silenced, democracy and football lose." -- FIFA presidential candidate Luis ...
What They're Saying: Joey Saputo    
"You can't go in with the attitude that we have no chance. We're here. We didn't ...
What They're Saying: Adrian Heath    
"We went on preseason to Charleston and we hired a few vans to transport everyone around. ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives