RSL takes down Portland 4-2
Sandy • If this was indeed the last match of the season at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake ensured it was a memorable one.But the way RSL played in the first leg of the Western Conference final Sunday night at Rio Tinto, odds could be in its favor for perhaps one more home match.Despite going down 1-0 in the 14th minute to a fabulous free kick goal by former RSL midfielder Will Johnson, RSL owned the final 75 minutes of the match, defeating Portland 4-2 in the first of the two-leg series.The second leg of the Western Conference final will be played Sunday, Nov. 24, at JELD-WEN Field in Portland. The team with the most aggregate goals after the two-leg series will advance to the MLS Cup ON Dec. 7 and face the winner of the Eastern Conference final between Houston and Kansas City.Midfielder Javier Morales put a fitting cap on the evening in the 82nd minute with his header off a corner by substitute Joao Plata. The RSL star made a run to the near post, bent down and snapped a spinning header past the Portland defense and goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.Rookie forward Devon Sandoval, starting in place of injured star Alvaro Saborio, scored the first goal of the second half for RSL with his 48th-minute goal. Forward Robbie Findley was sprung loose by Morales and Findley delivered a cross to the foot of Sandoval, who had time for a touch, before sliding the ball by defender Jack Jewsbury and Ricketts.It was a banner night for Findley, whose form is undoubtedly the best of the season.He poached a costly mistake by Portland defender Futty Danso in the 41st minute when the Timber lost track of the ball and Findley rounded him and slotted a ball by Ricketts to give RSL a 2-1 lead.Findley's goal came six minutes after defender Chris Schuler equalized for RSL in the 35th minute. The big centerback used all of his 6-foot-4 frame to out-jump Danso on a corner kick taken by Javier Morales and Schuler buried a header to the near post.It is Schuler's second consecutive goal, after scoring the series-winner in extra time Thursday night against the L.A. Galaxy.While RSL rallied from a tough start, defender Chris Wingert was forced to leave the match in the 33rd minute with an injury. Wingert, who fouled Portland's Diego Valeri a foul that led to Johnson's free kick goal suffered a broken rib on the tackle. He was replaced by Lovel Palmer.Portland substitute Frederic Piquionne added a stoppage-time header to cut the deficit to email@example.comTwitter: @chriskamrani
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