Real Salt Lake are headed to MLS Cup for the second time in five years after a dominating two legs against the Portland Timbers. RSL capped off the tie with a 1-0 win in Portland to five them a 5-2 aggregate win, a scoreline that was actually generous to the Timbers, and one that will see RSL take on Sporting Kansas City on Dec. 7 for the league's ultimate prize.
Salt Lake completely dominated Portland over the two legs and all season long, winning four and drawing two in their six contests this season. The result was the end of the Timbers' season at the hands of the team that dealt them half of their losses in 47 matches on the year.
It's possible that the Timbers could have gotten back into the tie early on had Futty Danso's goal been allowed, but the referee ruled that Rodney Wallace, who knocked the ball down for Danso, had pushed Lovell Palmer. Replays showed that it was a soft foul at best and instead of 1-0 up on the night and 4-3 on aggregate, the Timbers still had a two-goal deficit to make up.
The Timbers' season just about came to an end in the 29th minute when Robbie Findley took advantage of a Donovan Ricketts error for the lone goal of the match. Ricketts parried a long shot right back in front of goal, despite it being a drive he should have been able to push it to the side with ease, and Findley knocked the rebound into the open net for a 1-0 lead and 5-2 aggregate advantage.
With the way RSL dominated the Timbers all season, a three-goal lead was enough to put the tie to bed. That Portland had to sub Frederic Piquionne off early with an injury and Wallace was dealing with a knock of his own didn't help either, but that wasn't going to make much of a difference. RSL was the better team, the more experienced team and they had the Timbers' number.
RSL didn't sit back with their lead either. They kept pushing and really could have had another goal or two, but their finishing was poor, not that it mattered. The Timbers had a second goal ruled off for offside, but replays showed that it was the correct call so while Caleb Porter was irate, the referee was in the right and Salt Lake was still cruising along.
By the 80th minute mark, even the Timbers' fervent fans had given up hope. They were visibly emotional, but only sang louder and louder in support of their team, which gave them a wonderful ride from one of MLS's worst teams in 2012 to first place in the West this year. It was a spectacle, not that RSL cared what they were doing. They had tickets to MLS Cup to book.
Portland Timbers: Ricketts, Harrington, Jewsbury (Johnson 71'), Kah, Danso, Johnson, Valeri, Chara, Nagbe, Piquionne (Urruti 27'), Wallace (Alhassan 45').
Real Salt Lake: Rimando, Beltran, Borchers, Palmer (Mansally 59'), Schuler, Beckerman, Morales, Grabavoy, Gil, Findley, Sandoval (Garcia 85').
Goals: Findley 29'.