Portland Timbers advance to MLS Cup finals with win over RSL
Soccer City USA will be MLS Cup Final City this week.
Felipe Mora and Santiago Moreno scored goals and the Portland Timbers beat Real Salt Lake 2-0 at hopping Providence Park on Saturday, earning the Timbers their third MLS Western Conference championship in the club's 11 seasons.
They will play on their home field at noon Saturday, Dec. 11 for a chance to win their second MLS Cup championship. Either Philadelphia or New York City FC, who play on Sunday, will be in Portland competing for the title.
Portland, even without star Sebastian Blanco, was the dominant team in excusing a Real Salt Lake side that had scored upset road wins at Seattle and at Kansas City to reach the conference final.
Portland jumped in front quickly.
At the end of a sequence of one-touch passes, an off-balance clearing attempt from RSL's Aaron Herrera fell to Mora who rolled his shot beyond the reach of goalkeeper David Ochoa.
The sequence started with Josecarlos Van Rankin sending a pass that Mora back-heeled to Yimmi Chara. Chara's attempted return pass was deflected across the box where Herrera tried to clear it with the outside of his right foot.
It was a tough afternoon for Herrera, who later drew two yellow cards, the second in the 80th minute forcing RSL to play a man down.
The second goal came from Santiago Moreno, who started in place of the injured Blanco (who was available on the bench) and played an energetic, dynamic match. He scored on a counterattack in the 61st minute, unleashing a 30-yard rope that hit the left post and bounced into the goal off the back of Ochoa.
Moreno and Marvin Loria, replacing the suspended Dairon Asprilla, were dialed in defensively and trouble on the attack.
Portland was the proactive team throughout the match and had chances to add to the lead in the 25th minute when Ochoa dove low to his right to handle a distance shot from Yimmi Chara.
Just after the half-hour mark, Cristhian Paredes won a tackle at midfield and Marvin Loria dashed up the left wing and along the goal-line. His cross created chaos in front of goal, but Ochoa was able to make himself big enough to force an errant shot from Santiago Moreno.
Real Salt Lake had one golden chance in the first half, but Steve Clark reached over his head to deny a snap 6-yard header from Damir Kreilach.
The visitors pushed in the second half, but only created one truly dangerous chance, a header by Kreilach that Clark dove left to handle.
As the final seconds of four stoppage-time minutes, Clark played conductor by waving both arms to whip the crowd into a final frenzy.
Make that a Final frenzy.
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