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2018 Major League Soccer, Regular Season
  • Larrys Mabiala (15')
  • Diego Chara (68')
  • Sebastián Blanco (87')

Portland Timbers seal MLS Cup playoff place with 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake

Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri celebrate during the Portland Timbers' MLS win over Real Salt Lake. Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Sebastian Blanco scored his 10th goal of the season and added his 11th assist to help the Portland Timbers clinch a Western Conference playoff spot with a 3-0 victory over visiting Real Salt Lake on Sunday.

Larrys Mabiala also scored before halftime for Portland. Diego Chara and Blanco scored after the break in the Timbers' second win over Salt Lake by three goals in as many games.

In just his sixth start for Portland, Steve Clark made five saves to keep his second clean sheet for his new club, which claimed him off waivers from D.C. United in mid-August.

Real Salt Lake could have clinched a spot in the postseason with a victory on the road. Instead, it will have to nervously watch the final day of MLS play next Sunday as the only team not in action, hoping the LA Galaxy lose or draw the Houston Dynamo at home.

The Galaxy defeated Minnesota United 3-1 in a simultaneous match on Sunday to move within one point of Salt Lake.

Mabiala gave the Timbers the lead in the 15th minute with his fifth goal of the season as he continues to be Portland's most dangerous threat on set pieces. This time, he side-footed Diego Valeri's corner kick between the right post and goalkeeper Nick Rimando from close range.

RSL had a few good chances to equalize. Kyle Beckerman got his head on the end of a corner kick just before halftime, but Clark fought off the glare of the sun to push the effort away.

Then seven minutes after the interval on another corner, the ball fell to RSL's Justen Glad in open space. However, Clark powered Glad's half-volley attempt over the crossbar with a strong right hand.

In the 68th minute, Chara doubled Portland's lead on a swift counter-attack. Blanco got down the right to reach an outlet pass and provide the service. Rimando charged off his line, but Chara beat him to the ball and then finished into an open net.

Blanco added his goal three minutes from full-time off another cross from the right, this time from Lucas Melano, who had entered the game only two minutes earlier.