SANDY, Utah — Real Salt Lake advanced to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final after posting a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers Wednesday night at Rio Tinto Stadium.
RSL got an early goal by Alvaro Saborio, and Joao Plata scored what turned out to be a much-needed insurance goal in the 78th minute to help the team advance. Diego Valeri brought the visitors to within one right at the 90-minute mark, but there was to be no equalizer.
The win puts RSL into their first final of any sort since the 2011 CONCACAF Champions League, which they lost 2-1 to Monterrey.
Saborio got things started in the 7th minute, looping home a cross to the back post after Kyle Beckerman had done some stellar work getting loose on the wing. Saborio’s clinical header left Portland ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts with no chance.
After the goal, the tide turned as the Timbers began mounting attack after attack. They came inches away from breaking through in the 40th minute, as a full-sprint blast from Will Johnson forced a highlight-reel save by Nick Rimando.
Things began to get a little chippy after that. A collision between Rimando and Rodney Wallace resulted in a few shoves, choice words and a yellow card for both RSL's Carlos Salcedo and Portland's Ryan Johnson.
But while there were several such testy moments, they were merely the backdrop for some intricate, technical soccer from both teams. Valeri led the way for Portland as they tried to claw back into it, while RSL rope-a-doped and tried to hit on the counter or off of turnovers.
In the 63rd minute, Portland made a couple of changes, including removing former RSL standout Will Johnson, who left to a standing ovation form the appreciative 14,742 of fans in attendance, a new record for a US Open Cup semifinal.
Plata came on around the same time, and immediately made an impact, tilting the game to the home team’s way a little bit. He finally got his breakthrough on the goal of the night, a right-footed shot from 25 yards that beat Ricketts. Both Saborio and Beckerman were credited with assists.
Valeri made the four minutes of stoppage time interesting when he scored an unassisted goal in the 90th minute off his own rebound from a Rimando save, but will be kicking himself for missing an even better look earlier in the half after a perfect cross from Ryan Miller.
Real Salt Lake will host D.C. United, who beat the Chicago Fire 2-0 earlier in the night, on October 1 for a chance to win their second trophy in club history. The Timbers return to MLS play on August 17 against FC Dallas at JELD-WEN Field.
2013 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup – Semifinal
Portland Timbers (MLS) vs. Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Aug. 7, 2013 – Rio Tinto Stadium (Sandy, Utah)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Real Salt Lake 1 1 2
Portland Timbers 0 1 1
RSL: Saborio (Beckerman, Gil), 7
RSL: Plata (Saborio, Beckerman), 78
POR: Valeri, 90
RSL: Salcedo (Caution), 42
POR: r. Johnson (Caution), 42
POR: Kah (Caution), 90+4
Lineups & Stats
POR: GK Donovan Ricketts, D Michael Harrington, D Andrew Jean-Baptiste, D Pa Modou Kah, D Ryan Miller (Alvas Powell, 77), M Diego Chara, M Diego Valeri, M Will Johnson © (Kalif Alhassan, 62), F Darlington Nagbe, F Ryan Johnson (Jose Valencia, 62), F Rodney Wallace
Substitutes Not Used: GK Jake Gleeson, D Rauwshan McKenzie, M Jack Jewsbury, M Ben Zemanski
TOTAL SHOTS: 13 (Valeri, 3); SHOTS ON GOAL: 6 (Valeri, 2); FOULS: 10 (Chara, 3); OFFSIDES: 3; CORNER KICKS: 7; SAVES: 2
RSL: GK Nick Rimando, D Tony Beltran, D Nat Borchers, D Carlos Salcedo, D Chris Wingert, M Khari Stephenson (Javier Morales, 80), M Kyle Beckerman, M Ned Grabavoy, M Luis Gil (Yordany Alvarez, 88), F Álvaro Saborío, F Robbie Findle (Joao Plata, 61)
Substitutes Not Used: GK Jeff Attinella, D Lovel Palmer, M Sebastian Velasquez, F Olmes Garcia
TOTAL SHOTS: 11 (Stephenson, 4); SHOTS ON GOAL: 4 (Stephenson, 2); FOULS: 10 (Beckerman, Salcedo, 3); OFFSIDES: 2; CORNER KICKS: 4; SAVES: 5
Referee: Mark Geiger
Assistant Referees: Corey Rockwell, Gregory Barkey
4th Official: Tyler Ploeger
Time of Game: 1:54
Weather: Cloudy, 85 degrees
All statistics contained in this box score are unofficial