Real Salt Lake drops Timbers in 1st leg of West finals
Robbie FIndlay scores go-ahead goal in 1st half
Robbie Findley scored the go-ahead goal in the first half and had an assist in the second half, leading Real Salt Lake to a 4-2 victory over the Portland Timbers in the first leg of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night.
Chris Schuler, Devon Sandoval and Javier Morales also scored for Salt Lake, which will take a two-goal advantage into the second leg of the series on Nov. 24. Salt Lake scored three goals in a 13-minute stretch starting with Schuler's tally in the 35th that tied it 1-1.
Will Johnson put the Timbers on the scoreboard in the 14th minute and Frederic Piquionne closed the scoring in stoppage time.
Salt Lake extended its unbeaten streak over Portland to nine games. The Timbers have not beaten RSL since the first meeting in the series on April 30, 2011.
The Timbers' loss loss snapped a 10 game unbeaten streak, stretching back to a 4-2 loss to Salt Lake on Aug. 30.
On Johnson's opening goal, the Timbers' midfielder sent a free kick over the defensive wall and threaded the ball inside the far post, denying Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando any chance to get to it in time.
Schuler tied it 21 minutes later as Morales lobbed a corner kick high into the air toward the defender. Schuler outjumped everyone around him to snag the ball and headed it past Portland goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
A defensive mistake helped Salt Lake take the lead in the 41st. Mamadou Danso made an errant back pass under pressure from Findley and the ball squirted loose. Findley sprinted past Danso to collect the ball and easily flicked it around Ricketts as he came off the line.
In the second half, Findley latched onto a through ball and sent a cross into Sandoval, who quickly put it home for his first career playoff goal in the 48th.
Morales made it 4-1 in the 82nd. Ricketts made an impressive save moments earlier, leaping in the air and denying a header from Luis Gil at the far post. It led to a corner kick and Joao Plata fed the ball to Morales on a run to the far post. He lunged forward and headed the ball past Ricketts in the middle of the net.