Real Salt Lake Books Playoff Berth With Win Against Portland
SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake secured all three points against Portland to book a playoff position in the final game of the regular season.
It is the second year in a row that Real Salt Lake has picked up a win on Decision Day to book themselves a spot in the post-season following last year’s heroic 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City.
Needing a victory to keep their season alive, manager Pablo Mastroeni utilized a 4-4-2 formation that altered depending on who had possession. Zac MacMath started in goal, and Andrew Brody, Justen Glad, Marcelo Silva, and Bryan Oviedo operated across the backline. Maikel Chang started on the right, Pablo Ruiz and Braian Ojeda solidified the middle of the park while Jefferson Savarino played up and down the left flank. Sergio Córdova and Rubio Rubin were the two up tops.
Aaron Herrera was unavailable after suffering a calf injury on Wednesday during training. He attempted to train on Friday but ultimately pulled himself from the pitch and conceded that he was not healthy enough to play.
Unlike Real Salt Lake, Portland required just a point to cement their playoff position.
The fixture began with Real Salt Lake dominating the early goings as Chang dominated down the right flank. RSL came incredibly close to finding the opening goal in the 9th minute when Chang played a ball along the ground into the area that Córdova hit with his first touch but pushed the ball wide of the right post.
The breakthrough occurred in the 19th minute when Savarino beat his defender 30 yards from goal, cut in onto his preferred right foot and calmly slotted the ball into the far corner of the net. The stadium erupted as Savarino and his teammates celebrated.
Real Salt Lake should have doubled the lead minutes later when Ruiz put a wonderful cross from a corner kick that met the forehead of Silva but his attempt flashed past the far post and out for a goal kick.
Portland was then forced into making its first substitution of the game when left-back Zac McGraw went down with a left hamstring injury. He was replaced by Polish striker Jarosław Niezgoda in the 35th minute.
Real Salt Lake quickly doubled its lead shortly after the commencement of the second half when Oviedo found Rubin who found the back of the net with his first touch. It was Rubin’s first goal in 27 games.
— Real Salt Lake (@realsaltlake) October 9, 2022
Shortly thereafter, Real Salt Lake should have had a third when Córdova stumbled over the ball inside the six-yard box before fumbling his dribble over the touchline.
Interestingly, Mastroeni brought in Bode Hidalgo for Chang in the 58th minute. Hidalgo has previously only managed 53 minutes prior to his inclusion on Decision Day.
Real Salt Lake Victorious
Portland came within inches of scoring their first of the afternoon in the 68th minute when Yimmi Chará’s shot from inside the area ricocheted off the near post before being cleared by Real Salt Lake.
Mastroeni went back to his bench and brought on Justin Meram and Anderson Julio for Savarino and Córdova respectively in the 71st minute.
Rubin’s afternoon came to an end in the 76th minute when he was replaced by Jasper Löffelsend. Shortly before coming off, Rubin was struggling with what looked like a cramp in his left leg.
Hidalgo found the back of the net in the 83rd minute following a beautiful one-two with Löffelsend. American First Field was rocking. However, in the 87th minute, Portland scored to bring the game back to two goal margin.
Regardless, Real Salt Lake held on to secure all three points and managed to poach the seventh seed in the western conference while doing so.
— KSL Sports (@kslsports) October 9, 2022
Real Salt Lake will travel to Austin for a single-elimination fixture next weekend.
Playoff dates and kick-off times are yet to be released, however, with an F1 race being held in Austin next weekend it is possible that Real Salt Lake and Austin will not occur until Monday, October 17.
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