On Saturday evening, Real Salt Lake squeezed past the Portland Timbers thanks to a late Jefferson Savarino winner. Here are three things we learned from the 2-1 win.
On a cold night in Utah, Real Salt Lake beat the Portland Timbers 2-1 to advance to the Western Conference playoff semi-finals. Freddy Juarez’s men dominated the first half and deservedly went into the break 1-0 up thanks to a Damir Kreilach header.
But Giovani Savarese’s side rallied in the second period and found themselves level just two minutes after half time with Dairon Asprilla heading home a Sebastian Blanco corner. Extra-time was looming, until Jefferson Savarino kept his cool in the box to squeeze home an 87th-minute winner, setting up RSL with a tie against Seattle Sounders in the next round.
Here are three things we learned from Real Salt Lake’s sensational win.
3. Timbers crash out, so is Valeri done?
Diego Valeri has easily earned his standing as one of the greatest MLS players of all time. He is a Portland Timbers legend. The Argentina international has notched 87 goals and 68 assists in 245 Timbers appearances across all competitions and has been the defining factor to all of their successes since their MLS inception.
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However, despite coming off the bench to test Nick Rimando on a number of occasions and inject some real creativity into what had been a stagnant Timbers performance, Valeri wasn’t able to save his side from crashing out of the playoffs. Contract disagreements continue to rumble on in the background and there is no genuine doubt surrounding Valeri’s future at the club. It’s safe to say this sort of failure is not the way player or club would want to part ways.
If Valeri does leave, Savarese will be left with a serious rebuilding process as he looks to rediscover the Timbers’ identity after a year of struggle, rudimentary football and disappointing results both in the regular season, and postseason.