Real Salt Lake Vs. Portland Timbers, 2012 MLS: RSL Clinch Playoff Spot

Real Salt Lake picked up a big three points with a 2-1 victory over Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium. Fabian Espindola and Javier Morales scored the much needed goals for the hosts.

With only one win in their last six matches, RSL manager Jason Kreis knew he needed something to get his side back to their winning ways with the playoffs only weeks away. Alvaro Saborio was missing the game due to a shoulder injury he suffered midweek in the club's Champions League match, so Kreis turned to Espindola and Paulo Jr to spearhead his attack.

Morales drew a free kick just on top of the Portland penalty area. Kyle Beckerman, Morales, and Espindola stood over it. Morales ran over the ball just touching it behind him. Espindola lashed a low and hard freekick with his left foot that had Joe Bendik rooted to the ground. Just like that, sixteen minutes into the match, Real Salt Lake was winning 1-0.

A few minutes later, Portland won a corner kick. Jack Jewsbury whipped the corner into the area, and Rodney Wallace got his head on it. The ball seemed destined for the back of the net, but Nick Rimando had other ideas and came up with a brilliant diving save. Will Johnson was on hand to clear the danger.

Morales won another free kick outside the penalty area in the 35th minute. This time only he lined up to take the kick. Morales sent in a perfect free kick that struck the back of the net before Bendik lifted a hand. Just like that, Salt Lake was up 2-0.

Portland pulled one back in the 60th minute thanks to Bright Dike. Sal Zizzo whipped in a cross from the right side, and Dike headed the ball back across goal out of the reach of Rimando. The Timbers were right back in the match.

Fabian Espindola had several opportunities to score another goal, but he could not finish to save his life. He found himself one on one with Bendik multiple times throughout the second half, but he couldn't beat him.

Jamison Olave brought down Dike just outside of the penalty area giving Portland a free kick. Franck Songo'o stepped up to take the free kick, but Rimando jumped and tipped the shot over the crossbar. Portland kept attacking and Dike nearly scored an equalizer in the 84th minute, but his header struck the crossbar.

RSL clinched a playoff spot tonight with the victory, and Portland continued their ineptitude of not having won on the road this season.

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