Jason Kreis's side had got the better of the Los Angeles Galaxy after extra time at the end of their semi-final second-leg playoff, while the Timbers were comfortable 5-3 winners on aggregate over the Seattle Sounders.
Sunday night's contest promised to be an entertaining one with goals, and it proved to be so.
There were no fewer than six goals, one of which was scored in the final minute of injury time, as RSL ran out 4-2 victors.
Read how it all unfolded in our minute-by minute live commentary below.
1.32amHello and welcome to Sports Mole’s live coverage of the MLS clash between Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers. This is the first leg of the Western Conference final, and you can follow all the action live as it unfolds at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on this page.
1.35amNeither RSL nor the Timbers were favourites to reach so far in the competition, but here they are, just 180 minutes away from contesting the biggest prize in American football – the MLS Cup.
1.37amOf course, a lot could happen over the two legs of this final playoff and indeed more than 180 minutes and even penalties could be needed to separate the two teams. What can be guaranteed is that the two-legged Western Conference final between these two teams would bring unalloyed entertainment to the neutrals.
1.40amBoth teams have had to be on top of their game to reach so far in the competition. While RSL got the better of the Los Angeles Galaxy in extra time in their semi-final playoff, the Timers breezed past the Seattle Sounders 5-3 on aggregate in the last round.
1.42amThe match is supposed to kick off at 2am UK time (in around 15 minutes), but I don’t expect it to commence until around 2.25am. The reason? The pre-match festivities that are quite something to watch actually.
1.44amHowever, the lineups of the two teams have been announced and I am going to type them in a moment...
1.46amREAL SALT LAKE XI: Rimando; Beltran, Borchers, Wingert, Schuler; Beckerman, Morales, Gil, Velasquez; Findley, Sandoval
1.50amIt is really tough to choose between these two sides on current form, but perhaps Real Salt Lake will have a slight advantage because of their record against the Timbers. In four meetings against their visitors in 2013, RSL have won two and drawn two.
1.53amAs I mentioned earlier, the pre-match festivities mean that kickoff will be delayed by at least 20-25 minutes. But fear not, I will be here with you all the way through.
1.57amThe players are getting ready now for what will be a very crucial evening in this tie. If RSL win by a convincing margin, then it will be very tough for the Timbers to progress.
2.03amThe pre-match festivities are in full swing now. It really looks a very lovely occasion and is a fine build-up to what I expect to be a fantastic game of football.
2.06amIt will be interesting to note about Will Johnson, who was part of the off-season clearout from RSL and is now at the Timbers. He has really turned on the style for the Portland outfit and has been a key player in midfield for them. Could he be the one who comes back to haunt the home side tonight?
2.08amThe crowd at the stadium is in full volume as the players are getting ready to kick off proceedings. There are flags all around – it really is a great atmosphere!
3 minThere has been a good and lively start to the match, with the visiting Timbers controlling possession and passing the ball around well.
4 minCHANCE!Sebastian Velasquez takes the first shot of the match in the fourth minute from outside the Timbers box, but it goes harmlessly wide. It did come against the run of play – maybe this is the start of the RSL domination of the contest.
7 minRSL are just starting to assert themselves on the match, as Robbie Findley creates problem for the Timers with his run inside the area. The Timbers are still following their passing game and trying to push themselves forward.
9 minFor the Timbers, Will Johnson and Diego Valeri will be key players. If RSL can stop them from imposing themselves in the midfield, then they could well be on their way to victory tonight.
10 minGood attacking move from the home side as they march on down the right flank from where Luis Gil drives a cross across the face of the Timbers goal, but there is no RSL player to turn it home.
12 minReal Salt Lake are pulling the strings in this match now and seem to have settled into the contest. However, the visitors are not just going back on the defensive just yet – they have made it clear in the opening stages that they want to win tonight.
13 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 0-1 Portland Timbers (Will Johnson)
13 minWill Johnson comes back to haunt his former club as he gives the Portland Timbers the lead with a sensational free kick. Chris Wingert brings down Diego Valeri around 25 yards away from goal from where the midfielder takes the resultant free kick and powers it home past Nick Rimando.
15 minI have watched the replay of that free kick again and it really was a sensational hit. The ball actually dipped over the wall and went past a Rimando, who was actually slightly caught out of position. Brilliant way from Johnson to announce to his former club that he is over them.
19 minHowever, that goal does not appear to have rattled the host side, who are looking calm and composed on the ball as Findley earns the RSL a corner with a dangerous cross from the left flank.
20 minThat corner does not yield anything for the RSL, who are looking dangerous at the moment. There is nothing really to choose between the two sides, except the obvious goal, of course. Having said that, though, the Timbers appear to have been forced deep since scoring that goal.
24 minCHANCE!Devon Sandoval heads wide from a left-wing cross and appeals for a penalty that the referee dismisses. He did well to get his head to the ball under pressure from Danso, I have to say.
25 minWow, I did not realise that the match has been going on for 25 minutes! The minutes have flow by, for me anyway.
26 minCHANCE! The RSL fans are off their feet as Kyle Beckerman lets fly from outside the box after a loose ball falls to him, but his ferocious shot goes wide of Ricketts’s goal. It was the end product of yet another good attacking move from RSL, this time from the left.
28 minThe Portland Timbers are struggling to get out of their own half at the moment – they have actually been unable to construct a decent attacking move since going ahead in the 13th minute.
29 minRSL are unable to take advantage of a free kick from near the right touchline that is taken from Morales. He curls the ball into the Timbers penalty area and Nat Borchers heads it towards goal, but it is a weak effort and Ricketts collects with ease.
31 minWe have just crossed the half-hour mark of what has been a pulsating and riveting MLS encounter, and it remains 1-0 to the Portland Timbers, thanks to Will Johnson’s brilliant free kick in the 13th minute.
33 minSUBSTITUTION The home are forced to make a change so early in the match. Chris Wingert comes off and on comes Lovel Palmer. The former had been struggling since his tackle on Valeri in the 12th minute and it has been deemed that he cannot carry on any longer.
35 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 1-1 Portland Timbers (Chris Schuler)
35 minReal Salt Lake equalise and the goal comes in the 35th minute of the match. Gil earns a corner for his side that is swung into the Timbers penalty box by Morales for defender Chris Schuler to head in at the back post.
36 minIn all fairness, RSL have deserved that equaliser. They have been the better team so far in the match, especially after conceding in the early minutes.
38 minCHANCE!Chris Schuler almost scores his second goal of the evening as he gets his effort from Morales’s corner on target, but Valeri makes a goal-line clearance to keep the score at 1-1.
40 minCHANCE! RSL have yet another chance, this time it falls to Nat Borchers, whose header from close range is kept out by Ricketts. The rebound falls back to the RSL defender and this time he blazes his shot over the Timbers crossbar.
41 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 2-1 Portland Timbers (Robbie Findley)
41 minRobbie Findley makes it 2-1 to RSL, but the credit should be given to Timbers defender Mamadou Danso, who makes an absolute howler! Kyle Beckerman lofts in a long ball forward for Findley, whose pace throws the Timbers defender off and allows him to slot home past an advancing Ricketts.
43 minWhat a turnaround by RSL and, I have to say, it has been deserved. They have created the better chances, looked more lively and remained calm and composed despite conceding the early goal.
45 minTwo minutes of injury time have been added to what has been a pulsating and enthralling first half of football.
45+2 minReal almost go 3-1 up on the stroke of half time as Gil’s trickery inside the Timbers penalty area unsettled the visitors’ defender, but goalkeeper Ricketts makes no mistake in grabbing the eventual shot.
45+2 minHALF TIME: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Portland Timbers
2.58amWhat an absolutely breathtaking first half that was! Admittedly, it was largely one-way traffic but it really was superb entertainment for the neutrals!
3.02amThe Portland Timbers surged ahead in the 13th minute when Will Johnson struck a sensational free kick. However, Real Salt Lake retained their calm and composure and restored parity in the 34th minute through Chris Schuler, And six minutes later, Robbie Findley took advantage of poor defending from Mamadou Danso to put the home side ahead.
3.05amRSL will be confident of building on their first-half lead as their visitors appear to have lost their confidence. The Timbers had been forced back since they went ahead and have struggled to get out of their own half. That is reflected in the fact that they got just one corner in the first 45 minutes and three shots, one of which was on target and resulted in their goal.
3.07amCompare those Timbers stats to these for RSL. The hosts have had 60% of the possession in the first half, five corner kicks and 13 shots, five of which were on target.
3.10amThe second half will get underway in a few minutes’ time. The Timbers should be looking for an early goal to ease their nerves and also to stop the home side from running away with the game. As for RSL, if they get their third goal of the evening, they will really in the driving seat in this tie.
3.12amThe players are coming out of the tunnel now and setting themselves up for the second 45 minutes, which I hope will be as entertaining and engaging as the first half.
46 minKICKOFF Real Salt Lake get the second half underway. They lead 2-1 from the first 45 minutes, thanks to two goals in the final 10 minutes.
47 minThe pace at the start of the second half remains the same, as the visitors are looking not to concede territory to their hosts.
48 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 3-1 Portland Timbers (Devon Sandoval)
48 minReal Salt Lake surge further ahead as Devon Sandoval finishes off a breathtaking counter-attacking move. Robbie Findley is the instigator as he gets the better of Pa-Modou Kah down the right flank and slips a pass to Sandoval, who slams home from inside the area.
50 minThe Timbers must be shell-shocked – they were 1-0 up at one stage and now they are 3-1 behind. They need to regroup themselves rightaway and steady the ship.
52 minCHANCE! Another RSL counter-attacking move that almost comes to fruition, as Gil just loses the ball deep inside the Timbers penalty area under pressure from the visitors’ defence.
54 minSUBSTITUTION The Portland Timbers make their second change of the evening as Kalif Alhassan replaces Diego Valeri.
56 minRSL are looking very much hungry and determined to add goals to their tally, as Velasquez tries to take on the entire Portland defence inside the area and eventually gets dispossessed.
57 minCHANCE! Sandoval goes close to making it 4-1 to the home side as his header from a Morales cross goes just over the Timbers crossbar. It’s all one-way traffic at the moment
60 minHalf an hour left in this match for the Portland Timbers to get a goal back and maybe something more. As things stand, it is more likely that Real Salt Lake will score the fifth goal of the night; the visitors are struggling to press themselves on the RSL defence and to carve out an opening. Meanwhile, Adolfo Valencia has come on for Portland teammate Ryan Johnson.
62 minThe Timbers earn a free kick that Will Johnson curls into the area in the hope of finding a teammate, but his kick is cleared away from danger. He is frustrated at that missed chance and screams loud to express it.
64 minThe Timbers have another crack at the RSL with a free kick. It is better this time as it eventually finds Kah at the back post, but the defender cannot turn it towards goal. Still 3-1 to the hosts.
66 minSUBSTITUTION The RSL make a change now. Robbie Findley goes off to a rapturous applause and is replaced by Joao Plata.
68 minThe RSL fans are enjoying themselves very much and must be relishing the prospect of their side scoring one or two more goals this evening. They have been in buoyant mood all night and have been in loud voice.
70 minSix against one and ‘the one’ loses out. Adolfo Valencia leads a one-man Portland counter-attack and carries himself into the RSL penalty box, but he is surrounded by six men and fails to pull the trigger from what was a decent position.
72 minJust over 15 minutes remain in this match and it remains 3-1 to Real Salt Lake. Portland have a strong home record, so tonight’s hosts could do themselves a massive favour if they can score one more goal without reply.
75 minEnd-to-end action here as Morales romps into the Portland penalty box and is the tackled wonderfully by Johnson.
76 minLovel Palmer tries his luck for RSL with a rather ambitious shot from outside the box that goes high and wide.
79 minPromising move from Portland as Kalif Alhassan’s shot from outside the area just goes wide.
80 minCHANCE! Sensational one-handed save from Donovan Ricketts, who acrobatically keeps out a Gil header from a Morales delivery – best save in the match.
82 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 4-1 Portland Timbers (Javier Morales)
82 minRicketts is beaten this time and how! That save from Ricketts earns the home side a corner. From the resulting corner, Joao Plata makes a delivery that Morales heads home from close range, giving the Portland no chance whatsoever.
84 minThat fourth goal could just have settled the tie, let alone the match. Portland have a strong home record but they would be daunted by the prospect of putting three past this in-form RSL side.
85 minSUBSTITUTION Morales comes off to a loud applause from the home fans. He is replaced by Ned Grabavoy.
86 minMorales indeed had a very good game tonight and capped his A-class performance with that well-taken goal.
89 minYELLOW CARD Grabavoy and Valencia are both down injured on the pitch after a nasty collision. The latter is actually shown a yellow card.
90 minFour minutes of injury time have been added, four minutes for the Timbers to halve the deficit.
90+2 minPortland are pressing on in the final minutes of the match but to no avail, as the home side are resolute in defence and are fending their visitors off.
90+4 minGOAL! Real Salt Lake 4-2 Portland Timbers (Frederic Piquionne)
90+4 minThe Portland Timbers score their second goal of the evening in the dying seconds of the match! Frederic Piquionne is the man who gets it as he rises high in the air to head home Jack Jewsbury’s cross.
90+5 minFULL TIME: Real Salt Lake 4-2 Portland Timbers
4.06amIt’s all over at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah where Real Salt Lake have beaten the Portland Timbers 4-2 in the first leg of their MLS Western Conference final playoff.
4.08amIn what proved to be a pulsating game of football, Will Johnson gave the away side an early lead, but Chris Schuler and Robbie Findley made it 2-1 to RSL heading into the break. Goals from Devon Sandoval and Javier Morales looked to have secured the match and indeed the tie for the hosts, but Frederic Piquionne popped up in the last minute of injury time to head home the Timbers’ second goal of the night.
4.09amThe two-legged tie is now finely balanced. RSL will take a 4-2 lead into the second leg later this month, but given the Timbers’ strong home form, they will know that they can progress.
4.11amThank you very much for joining me tonight. I hope that you enjoyed our live coverage of the match here on Sports Mole. Have a good night, it’s goodbye from me for now.