Join Now  | 
Home About Contact Us Privacy & Security Advertise
Soccer America Daily Soccer World Daily Special Edition Around The Net Soccer Business Insider College Soccer Reporter Youth Soccer Reporter Soccer on TV Soccer America Classifieds Game Report
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalk Soccer America Confidential Youth Soccer Insider World Cup Watch
RSS Feeds Archives Manage Subscriptions Subscribe
Order Current Issue Subscribe Manage My Subscription Renew My Subscription Gift Subscription
My Account Join Now
Tournament Calendar Camps & Academies Soccer Glossary Classifieds
RSL takes revamped squad into MLS Cup
by Ridge Mahoney, November 25th, 2013 1:35AM
Subscribe to Soccer America Daily

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
Video Pick: Ridiculous red-card meltdown     
MSV Duisburg's Baris Ozbek took swings at half the players on Sportfreunde Lotte and stamped on ...
MLS Cup: Remaining tickets sell out in three minutes    
Major League Soccer announced that tickets Saturday's MLS Cup between Toronto FC and the Seattle Sounders ...
What They're Saying: Chapecoense mourner Claudiane Penegalli     
"It creates indignation because it was a human failure. It wasn't a problem with nature, with ...
What They're Saying: Simon Grayson    
"You expect it in the playground between 4- or 5-year-olds, not from two professionals who've been ...
MLS Moves: Quakes decline options on nine players    
Former U.S. national team defender Clarence Goodson, former U.S. U-20s Marc Pelosi and Tommy Thompson and ...
MLS Moves: Former Xolos sign with Atlanta and SKC    
Two Americans who began their pro careers at Mexico's Tijuana have signed contracts with MLS clubs. ...
Video Pick: Pulisic's pocket warmer    
Both had a laugh when Christian Pulisic entered Borussia Dortmund's 4-1 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach and ...
U.S. U-17 boys crush competition at Nike Friendlies    
The USA won the U-17 Nike International Friendlies competition in convincing fashion, clinching with a 3-0 ...
U.S. Abroad: Arena watches Pulisic and Johnson    
New U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena watched Christian Pulisic play at Borussia Dortmund as he ...
U.S. U-17s boys romp again, beat Turkey, 5-1     
After opening the Nike International Friendlies with a 7-1 win over Portugal, the U.S. U-17 boys ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives