Timbers at Real Salt Lake
Kickoff: 6 p.m. Sunday at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah.
TV/radio: ESPN (Ch. 35/735) / AM 750.
Conference finals: This is the first of a two-game, total goals playoff. The second game is Nov. 24 in Portland. The team with the most goals over the two matches advances to the MLS Cup championship match. If the teams are tied in total goals after the second game, an additional 30 minutes will be played. If that doesn’t break the tie, penalty kicks will decide the series.
MLS Cup: The Western Conference champion will meet either Sporting Kansas City or Houston in the MLS Cup final. The clubs are tied 0-0 after their first game. The second game is Nov. 23 at Kansas City. If Kansas City wins the East it will host MLS Cup. If Houston wins the East, the Portland-RSL winner will host the championship match.
How they got here: The Timbers beat Seattle 2-1 and 3-2 for a 5-3 aggregate score to win in their first playoff series. Real Salt Lake beat Los Angeles 2-1, losing the first leg 1-0 on the road, tying and winning it in the home leg on Thursday with goals from Sebastian Velasquez and defender Chris Schuler (in the 102nd minute from a free kick by Javier Morales).
Timbers story: The Timbers are on a roll. They are unbeaten in 10 consecutive matches (seven wins). The last loss was Aug. 30 at RSL (4-2). Five different players scored goals in the two wins over Seattle: Ryan Johnson, Darlington Nagbe, Will Johnson, Diego Valeri and Futty Danso. Right back Jack Jewsbury set up the first goal in both games against Seattle, sending a cross to Ryan Johnson in the first game and drawing a penalty kick in the second game. Valeri scored two of Portland’s six goals against RSL this season.
Real Salt Lake story: RSL has five wins, three draws and one loss all time against the Timbers. And Portland won the first meeting between the clubs in 2011. Alava Saborio has seven goals in six games against the Timbers, but is expected to miss Sunday’s match with an injury suffered late in Thursday’s win over Los Angeles. Midfielder Ned Grabavoy could return after suffering an injury in the first leg match against L.A. This is the fourth conference championship series for RSL since 2008. RSL won MLS Cup in 2009.