The Portland Timbers are Unable to Unlock Real Salt Lake

Chris Nicoll-USA TODAY Sports

The Timbers couldn't overcome an organized Real Salt Lake side and a pair of early injuries in the second leg of the Western Conference Final, losing 1-0 on the night and 5-2 on aggregate.

With the Portland Timbers in need of two goals to pull even with Real Salt Lake on aggregate, the team was hoping for a quick score out of the gate. What they got was a pair of waived off goals, a pair of injuries, and a frustrating night of soccer in the second leg of the Western Conference Final.

Spirits throughout Portland were raised then dashed in the 14' when it appeared that Futty Danso had headed home the opening goal of the night. Will Johnson sent an arcing corner kick across the face of the goal where it dropped to Rodney Wallace. Wallace, marked tightly by Lovel Palmer, headed the ball back toward the center of the pitch where Futty Danso nodded it past Nick Rimando. It was not to be, however, as Wallace, who had both of his hands on Palmer's back, was judged by referee Mark Geiger to have pushed off and the goal was waved off.

Salt Lake scored the game's lone goal fifteen minutes later in the 29' thanks to a long ball and a favorable bounce. Rimando started off the play with a long boot down field that Pa Modou Kah headed away from the Timbers box and into space in the midfield where it was picked up by Javier Morales. Morales slipped the ball forward to Luis Gil who stepped calmly around the onrushing Diego Chara and slipped in a low, rolling shot that forced Ricketts to stretch out and make a save. The rebound bounced slowly in the box and was met by Robbie Findley who side-footed it home with ease.

It looked like the Timbers would pull one back only moments later as, in the 32', Michael Harrington swung a curling ball in to Diego Valeri in the RSL box. Valeri brought the ball down and got off a quick shot that Rimando was able to block, but not hold. Futty Danso was Johnny-on-the-spot, slipping the ball beneath Rimando before he could recover, but the goal was again waved off by Geiger, this time because Futty was offside.

From there things went downhill rapidly for the Timbers. A team used to responding to adversity, Portland were not their usual poised selves after the concession and the missed chances. Passes were mislaid, fouls were committed, and few real chances were created. The Timbers outshot their opponents eight to six in the first 45', but were only able to put one of those shots on target.

As the half came to a close the Timbers were forced to make their second change of the match, taking out Rodney Wallace in the 43'. Wallace had been struggling since injuring his ankle in a hard tackle on Tony Beltran some time earlier. After giving his all for most of the half, Wallace went to the ground, unable to continue and was taken out of the match.

In need of three goals and with only one substitute remaining, the Timbers threw themselves forward in the second half, attacking over and over again. The Portland boys created numerous half-chances, keeping RSL under pressure for much of the half, but they were unable to penetrate the organized Salt Lake defense.

As the clock approached full time the Timbers continued pushing forward, hoping for some sort of redemption. Salt Lake, however, stood their ground and the goal that the Timbers so desperately sought was not to come. Still, after a game full of heartbreak, the stadium echoed with the chant, "P-T F-C", drowning out the celebrations of the traveling RSL fans as the final whistle blew.

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