Portland Timbers claim the Western Conference; Will Host MLS Cup 2021
Portland Timbers lifting the Western Conference trophy | Photo: @TimbersFC on Twitter

The Portland Timbers are headed to the MLS Cup Final for the third time in their history. 

The Timbers played host to dark horse Real Salt Lake last night in the Western Conference Final that took place at Providence Park. Portland, who needed a win to solidify being the host of the MLS Cup Final, understood the assignment by defeating RSL 2-0. 

Quick Start

It was a quick start to the game, with Portland applying pressure early on to the RSL backline and keeper David Ochoa. In the fifth minute of play, a bad clearance by Salt Lake found forward Felipe Mora who was trailing the play. The ball redirected off of the ongoing right foot of the Timbers striker and calmly rolled past the outstretched arms of Ochoa and into the net to give Portland the early lead. 

Salt Lake would try and level the match with a cross from the wing that forced keeper Steve Clark into making a point blank save from the head of Damir Kreilach. 

The Timbers came close to extending their lead after a save by Ochoa ricocheted to midfielder Diego Chara, but his attempt sailed high over the crossbar and into the supporters' section. 

Portland would hold the 1-0 lead heading into halftime, with RSL knocking on the doorstep with chance after chance. 

Timbers take second half

Portland would come out hot in the second half, picking up right where they left off in the first half, applying pressure and creating opportunities. That would eventually pay off in the 61st minute of play. 

Midfielder Santiago Moreno dribbled through the center of the park and unleashed a shot from distance that bounced off the post and deflected off of the back of Ochoa and into the net. That goal would double Portland's lead and give them breathing room with time to spare. 

Bad to Worse

For RSL, things would go from bad to worse as Aaron Herrera was shown a second yellow card, leaving Salt Lake to find two goals with 10-men. 

Portland would see the match out, defeating Salt Lake 2-0 and getting the right to host MLS Cup for the first time in franchise history. This was their third Western Conference title which will lead to their third trip to the MLS Cup Final, where they've split the difference in their other two visits. 

Portland will face the winner of the Eastern Conference Final between the Philadelphia Union and New York City FC.