Portland, Ore. • Onto Kansas City, and onto MLS Cup.
Real Salt Lake earned its second trip to the MLS Cup final in five years Sunday night in its 1-0 win over the Portland Timbers in the Western Conference final, advancing on with a 5-2 goal aggregate against the No. 1-seeded Timbers.
RSL will face Sporting Kansas City, the No. 2 seed out of the East and the Eastern Conference champions, for a shot at the league crown on Saturday, Dec. 7, at Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kan.
Of all players to put the final nail in the coffin of the Timbers, it was forward Robbie Findley, who a season ago was playing overseas in England. But the return of the RSL forward paid dividends at the most critical juncture of the season.
Findley put RSL up 1-0 in the 29th minute on a loose ball in the box. Luis Gil took a shot from outside the 18-yard box that Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts could not corral. Findley’s speed got him to the ball and he slotted in his second goal of the series, and his third career postseason goal against Ricketts.
The goal silenced the raucous atmosphere of JELD-WEN Field as Findley immediately sprinted toward the sliver of RSL fans chanting following the goal.
But RSL withstood early pressure from the Timbers and, on two occasions, saw balls put in the back of the net by Portland whistled off by official Mark Geiger. Defender Futty Danso headed a ball in the back of the net in the 15th minute, which was whistled off, and in the 33rd minute, a potential Danso goal was called off when he was seen to be offside by the sideline official.
Instead, RSL bossed the match in one of the more hostile environments, against a rival that needed goals to keep a pulse in this series.
And ended up hoisting the Western Conference title on the turf of JELD-WEN Field.
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