Real Salt Lake: Timbers' late goal reinforces work still left to be done for RSL
Frederic Piquionne's stoppage-time header definitely put a damper on the party at Rio Tinto Stadium on Sunday night.
The Portland Timber substitute pulled one back for the visitors in the fourth minute of stoppage time, giving the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference a sliver of hope heading home for the second leg of the Western Conference final Nov. 24, at Jeld-Wen Field.
Yes, Real Salt Lake was disappointed to give up the goal and breathe a bit of life into the visitors following its 4-2 win, but the late lapse provided an infusion of reality.
Despite dominating offensively, RSL's ticket to the MLS Cup final is yet to be punched.
"I think that one thing is clear, and I think 100 percent certain," RSL coach Jason Kreis said, "that we still have 90 minutes of work to do if we're going to advance."
RSL scored four goals against the Timbers for the second time in five matches this season to snap Portland's 10-game unbeaten streak in resounding fashion Sunday night. While Portland did jump out to a 1-0 lead in the 14th minute off a free-kick goal by former RSL midfielder Will Johnson, Real kept its foot on the pedal for the next 75 minutes, handing the Timbers their first loss of the season after taking a lead.
But Piquionne's goal makes the second leg a bit more hairy for RSL, knowing full well the Timbers dominate at home, having lost one match at home all season, 2-1 to Montreal on March 9.
Portland has rolled at Jeld-Wen since the loss.
"We're going to be under it," defender Nat Borchers said. "They're going to come after us. They're going to need to get that first goal, an early goal, but we have to be a mature team and we have to defend well. We have to be aggressive, and that's the way that we play, even on the road."
Robbie Findley, who scored and assisted in the 4-2 win, echoed Borchers, saying that the Timbers will come after RSL in the first half and try to put pressure on the defense.
"I think at some point in the game, if we get past halftime 0-0, things will open up," Findley said. "We'll get opportunities there. It's a matter of putting them away again."
Piquionne's header will be an added incentive for RSL, Kreis said. Rather than dwelling on conceding the late goal, RSL will be forced to avoid complacency now 90 minutes away from the club's second MLS Cup berth in five seasons, Kreis said.
"As we've seen with what Portland has done at their place recently, they score a lot of goals," Kreis said. "We're not going to be able to go there and defend all night, for sure."
Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers
P Western Conference finals, leg two
• Nov. 24, 7 p.m.
TV • ESPN