In a must-win match at Rio Tinto Stadium, Real Salt Lake put together a quality 90-minute performance and walked away with a 2-1 victory over the Timbers.
Real Salt Lake entered the match on Saturday at Rio Tinto just three points below the red line. The Claret and Cobalt took care of business against the visiting Portland Timbers and came away with a 2-1 win. To top off the night, Western Conference foes, the San Jose Earthquakes, were able to get the best of the Houston Dynamo while FC Dallas drew against the Seattle Sounders, meaning RSL jumped the two Texas teams for the sixth place spot. Games in hand will still be an issue, as RSL only has four games left while their competitors in the standings have five or six, but winning only gives RSL a chance and win they did.
It didn’t take long for RSL to break the deadlock as Albert Rusnák snuck a quick, knuckleball shot past former RSL backup Jeff Attinella following a Timbers turnover in the 14th minute. Rusnák now has seven goals on the season.
Just after halftime, MVP hopeful, Diego Valeri, opened the account for the visitors with a perfectly placed header off a Dairon Asprilla cross. It was Valeri’s eighth straight match win a goal, an MLS record. That wouldn’t be the end though, just a few minutes later Jefferson Savarino found space and was able to place a beautiful curler into the upper ninety of the back post while Attinella could only watch and hope the shot would miss the target.
The defense and Nick Rimando were able to hold strong as Portland upped the pressure for the last 15 minutes of the match, earning all three points and keeping RSL’s postseason chances alive for at least another week.
Real Salt Lake now has a week off before facing another Western Conference foe in front of them, this time with the reigning MLS champion Seattle Sounders. One significant change for the match will depend on the health of Luis Silva, who needed to be subbed off in favor of Yura Movsisyan following an injury. Whoever is up front will be called upon to finish their chances, as every game is essentially a playoff game from here on out for RSL.