By ANNE M. PETERSON, AP Sports Wrtier
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Felipe Mora and Santiago Moreno scored and the Portland Timbers superior to the MLS Cup last with a 2-0 victory over Real Salt Lake within the Western Conference last on Saturday.
Fourth-seeded Portland will host the winner of Sunday’s Eastern Conference last between the Philadelphia Union and NYCFC on Saturday. It is the primary time that the Timbers have hosted the league championship.
The Timbers, who gained the MLS Cup in 2015, additionally went to the ultimate in 2018 however fell to Atlanta United.
“It was a very strong performance. The guys were motivated,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese mentioned. “They understood the moment that was at stake and they performed very well today.”
Seventh-seeded Real Salt Lake had appeared within the MLS Cup last thrice, successful the title in 2009. It was the crew’s fifth journey to the convention finals since becoming a member of the league in 2005.
Salt Lake had gained all three earlier playoff matches towards the Timbers, together with the final assembly in 2019 when RSL gained 2-1 at house within the opening spherical.
But the Timbers swept Salt Lake of their three conferences through the common season, outscoring their opponent 12-4 within the three matches.
RSL superior to the convention last with a 2-1 victory at Sporting Kansas City. The crew was undefeated in its earlier 4 straight street matches.
“I couldn’t be more proud of being a part of this group. Nobody gave us a shot when the season started. And no one gave us a shot in the playoffs either,” RSL interim coach Pablo Mastroeni said. “So to have the the mental toughness to overcome the perception of who we are, is fantastic. And so you can always look at things from either perspective, but I couldn’t be more proud of the effort and commitment of this group that I was able to lead.”
Mastroeni rallied RSL after he was promoted to interim coach when Freddy Juarez unexpectedly departed in August for a place with the Seattle Sounders.
The Timbers downed top-seeded Colorado 1-0 on the street within the convention semifinals.
Portland went up early with Mora’s aim within the fifth minute. RSL defender Aaron Herrera tried to clear the ball from out in entrance of the aim, nevertheless it fell to Mora, who scored. It was Mora’s twelfth aim this yr.
The Timbers added an insurance coverage aim within the 61st minute. Moreno’s right-footed blast from atop the penalty space hit the publish then caromed off the again of RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa.
“A lot of happiness,” Mora mentioned about heading to the championship recreation. “We’ve done a lot of hard work this year and it was important for us to get this win.”
Portland goalkeeper Steve Clark completed with three saves within the shutout.
The Timbers have been with out Dairon Asprilla due to a pink card within the semifinal win over the Rapids.
The availability of Portland’s Sebastian Blanco was unsure due to a hamstring damage towards the Rapids, however he was out there as a sub. Blanco has seven targets and 7 assists this season.
Keeping Blanco out of Saturday’s recreation gave him extra relaxation earlier than the ultimate.
“It’s definitely very important for us to be home,” Mora mentioned about internet hosting the title recreation. “Just being with our followers right here, they make us really feel nice at house. So that’s going to be actually vital to play within the last.”
RSL noticed the return of captain Albert Rusnak, who missed the previous two video games due to the league’s well being and security protocol. Rusnak has 11 targets this season.
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