The Portland Timbers gave Real Salt Lake all it could handle, but fell 1-0 in
Leg 2 of the Western Conference Championship of the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs on
Sunday night before a sellout crowd of 20,674 at JELD-WEN Field. With a
first-half goal on Sunday, Real Salt Lake defeated the Timbers 5-2 in the
two-game, aggregate-goal series to advance to MLS Cup 2013.
The Timbers run in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs came to end, capping the club's most successful season in MLS since joining the league in 2011. In comparison to 2012 totals, the Timbers assembled a 23-point improvement in points and a 43-goal improvement in goal differential in 2013, which ranks as the biggest turnaround in MLS history, to capture the club's first MLS Cup Playoffs berth as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. The Timbers were the first club since Real Salt Lake in 2008 to reach the conference championship in its postseason debut.
Looking to fight their way back from a two-goal deficit after Leg 1 on Nov. 10, the Timbers were aggressive in the attack and set club MLS Cup Playoff marks in shots (18) and corner kicks (9), and held nearly 55 percent of the possession in the second leg against Real Salt Lake. Portland had two goals disallowed in the first half and were held scoreless for just the third time at JELD-WEN Field in 2013.
In an intense matchup between the Western Conference's top two clubs during the regular season, Real Salt Lake found the game's lone goal from Robbie Findley in the 29th minute off a rebound and held off the Timbers to secure the win and aggregate-goal series to advance to their second MLS Cup.
Portland's defense held Real Salt Lake to seven shots, with the visitors managing just one shot over the final 61 minutes of the contest. Real Salt Lake's seven shots were the fewest by a winning team in one game in the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Real Salt Lake found an opportunistic opening goal just before the half hour mark. Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts made a diving stop towards the right post on a shot from distance, knocking down the shot. Findley found enough space between two Timbers defenders to get to the rebound and was able to drag a shot into the bottom right corner of the goal for a 1-0 lead and extend Real Salt Lake's lead to three goals in the aggregate-goal series.
The Timbers held the advantage in shots (8-6), corner kicks (5-3) and possession (56.3 percent) through a hard-fought first half, as they looked to push the game from the opening whistle and narrowly missed a chance in the opening minutes as midfielder Diego Valeri almost connected on a cross into the box by forward Frederic Piquionne. Portland looked to have scored twice in the first half, with goals by defender Futty Danso in the 15th and 33rd minutes waived off by a foul in the box and an offside call, respectively.
Portland continued to press in the second half and took 10 shots, tied for the second-most by a club in the second half of the 2013 MLS Cup Playoffs. Valeri, who took a team-high six shots, had a look on goal in the 55th minute and forward Maximiliano Urruti had a shot from distance on frame in the 83rd minute. One of the Timbers' best looks of the second half came when forward Darlington Nagbe set up midfielder Will Johnson for a quality look in the 68th minute. Johnson, who took four shots, hit the ball first time and it sliced just wide of the right post.
Release from Portland Timbers.