Timbers will host conference final
The Portland Timbers will play at home on Saturday, Dec. 4, with a chance to advance to the MLS Cup final.
Real Salt Lake's second upset win, a 2-1 victory over Sporting Kansas City on Sunday, Nov. 28, means Portland is the highest remaining seed in the Western Conference.
The Dec. 4 match is scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start and will be televised on FS1. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
This is the Timbers' fourth trip to the conference finals in 11 seasons in MLS. Portland has clinched the conference title on the road twice. Real Salt Lake won the Western Conference title at Portland in the second leg of the 2013 matchup, and also eliminated Portland from the 2019 playoffs.
Portland won all three matches against Real Salt Lake this season, with a 12-4 edge in goals scored.
But this RSL is on quite a run. The team qualified for the final playoff spot in the dying seconds of the regular season, won at Seattle on penalties without attempting a shot, then went to Kansas City and was the better team in the second half of a surprising a comeback 2-1 win — Bobby Wood scoring the winner in the 91st minute.
Oh, and RSL has won two playoff games without its best player, Albert Rusnak, because of a positive COVID-19 test.
Rusnak could be back for the conference final.
Portland, on the other hand, figures to be without its best player after Sebastian Blanco came up with a hamstring injury during the Timbers' Thanksgiving Day win at Colorado. Still to be determined is the availability of winger Dairon Asprilla. The Timbers have appealed the red card Asprilla received late in the Colorado match.
The Timbers and RSL might be the least probably conference final matchup this season. But Portland has come on strong, winning 12 of its last 16 matches — including a 6-1 home win over RSL and a 3-1 win at Salt Lake.
Saturday's match at Providence Park will cap a week that starts with the Trail Blazers visiting the Jazz on Monday, Nov. 29, and includes the Pac-12 football championship game on Friday at Las Vegas between the Oregon Ducks and the Utah Utes.
• Philadelphia beats Nashville — The Union eliminated visiting Nashville on penalty kicks Sunday after the teams played to a 1-1 draw. Nashville failed to convert any of its four PKs. The Union will play the winner of Tuesday's match between top seed New England and New York City FC in the Eastern Conference final.
• If Portland wins Saturday, it will either visit New England or play host to Philadelphia or NYC FC at noon PT on Dec. 11 in the MLS Cup championship match.
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