SANDY, Utah – Sebastián Blanco scored a brace, set up a third via an own goal and the Portland Timbers defeated Real Salt Lake 3-1 Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.

The win secured Portland fourth place in the Western Conference and earned them a home match in the first round of the Audio 2021 MLS Cup Playoffs.

MATCH MOMENTS

15' - SAVE (POR) - RSL broke through the Timbers defense with forward Damir Kreilach in the box but the ball was knocked out wide to Maikel Chang. Chang's shot was blocked by Portland defender Bill Tuiloma who raced back in front of goal to alertly deny the attempt.

17' - GOAL (POR) - Portland took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute off a nice corner kick set piece. Yimmi Chara's inswinging ball was headed down by Cristian Paredes to the far post where Sebastián Blanco headed it off the bounce and into the back of the net.

24' - CHANCE (POR) - Portland sent a ball out right to just outside the RSL 18-yard box to Blanco who hammered a skipping shot that skimmed just wide of the left post.

25' - CHANCE (POR) - Blanco, again out wide right, looped a cross into Jaroslaw Niezgoda who snapped his header down but it pinged off the left post.

25' - SAVE (POR) - RSL came quickly down into Portland's end with a throughball that sent Rubio Rubin in on goal through the right channel. Goalkeeper Steve Clark cut down the angle to deny the attempt.

37' - CHANCE (POR) - Yimmi Chara lined up a free kick from the very edge of the Salt Lake box. His curling attempt went around the defensive wall towards the near upper corner of the net but clanged off the cross bar.

38' - OWN GOAL (POR) - Blanco, with space on the wing, dribbled direct into the box to twist and turn the RSL defense. He then slipped a cross in front goal that deflected off Salt Lake defender Aaron Herrera and into the back of the net to double Portland's lead to 2-0.

45' - GOAL (POR) - Blanco scored his second goal of the match on a brilliant counter. The Argentine forced a turnover near midfield and he took off with Niezgoda a Yimmi Chara on either side. Blanco passed out right to Niezgoda who returned the pass through three defenders for the midfielder to smash into the back of the net and make the score 3-0 for Portland.

59' - SAVE (POR) - RSL's Albert Rusnák skirted along the edge of the Portland area and took a quick shot that Clark sprang to his left to catch.

63' - CHANCE (POR) - Yimmi Chara's outswinging corner kick found Dario Zuparic who headed his shot barely wide of the right post.

73' - CHANCE (POR) - Dairon Asprilla, down the left channel, nailed a shot that RSL goalkeeper David Ochoa misplayed but managed to knock over the bar.

88' - PK GOAL (RSL) - After a handball call in the box went against Portland and defender Claudio Bravo, Salt Lake's Rusnák converted his attempt to cut the score to 3-1.

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The Portland Timbers close out the 2021 MLS regular season Sunday on MLS Decision Day when they host Austin FC (3pm PT, TICKETS, FOX 12 PLUS).

Portland Timbers (16-13-4, 52pts) vs. Real Salt Lake (13-14-6, 45pts)
Nov. 3, 2021 – Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)

Scoring Summary:
POR: Blanco (Paredes, Y. Chara), 17
POR: Own Goal (Herrera), 38
POR: Blanco (Niezgoda), 45
RSL: Rusnak (penalty kick), 88

Misconduct Summary:
RSL: Ruiz (caution), 36
POR: Tuiloma (caution), 82
POR: Bravo (caution), 87

Lineups:
POR: GK Clark, D Van Rankin, D Tuiloma, D Zuparic, D Bravo, M D. Chara ©, M Paredes (Fochive, 75), M Y. Chara (Loria, 88), M Blanco (Moreno, 75), F Asprilla, F Niezgoda (Mora, 61)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Ivacic, D Bonilla, D Mabiala, D McGraw, M Valeri

TOTAL SHOTS: 12 (Blanco, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 3 (Blanco, 2); FOULS: 15 (Bravo, 5); OFFSIDES: 0; CORNER KICKS: 5; SAVES: 4

RSL: GK Ochoa, D Glad, D Holt, D Herrera, M Brody (Meram, 46), M Luiz (Julio, 84), M Ruiz, M Chang (Menedez, 76), M Rusnak, F Kreilach ©, F Rubin (Wood, 61)

Substitutes Not Used: GK MacMath, D Morgan, D Toia, D Silva, M Besler

TOTAL SHOTS: 20 (Rusnak, 5); SHOTS ON GOAL: 7 (Rusnak, 3); FOULS: 7 (Seven players tied, 7); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 1

Referee: Chris Penso
Assistant Referees: Gjovalin Bori, Mike Rottersman
Fourth official: Victor Rivas
VAR: Fotis Bazakos
Attendance: 18,405
Weather: Sunny, 56 degrees

All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial

Notes

  • The Timbers are 16-13-4 (52 pts) this season.
  • With the win, Portland secured the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference for the 2021 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs.
  • The Timbers clinched a spot in the playoffs on Nov. 2, off of a 1-1 draw between LAFC and Vancouver Whitecaps FC.
  • It marks the fifth consecutive season Portland has gone to the postseason, and seventh overall.
  • Head coach Gio Savarese has clinched playoffs in each of his four seasons with the club.
  • The Timbers recorded 16 wins in a regular season for the first time in club history.
  • Portland is 12-8-8 against RSL all-time, and 6-6-2 on the road.
  • The Timbers swept Salt Lake in the 2021 campaign 3-0-0, outscoring them 12-4. 
  • Blanco registered two goals tonight, his fifth and sixth of the season.
  • Blanco recorded his third career brace for the Timbers.
  • In 10 matches played against RSL, Blanco has recorded seven goals and six assists. 
  • Paredes tallied his third assist of the season.
  • Y. Chara’s assist registered as his sixth of the year.
  • In three appearances against Real Salt Lake this season, Y. Chara has recorded two goals and two assists.
  • Niezgoda tallied his first assist of the 2021 campaign. 
  • Niezgoda is the 18th player to record an assist for Portland this season. 
  • Dairon Asprilla is the only player to appear in all 33 matches for Portland this season.
  • Timbers assistant coach Miles Joseph logged his 300th MLS match, and his 50th win coaching with Gio Savarese.