Timbers, Real Salt Lake play to 0-0 tie
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake played to a 0-0 tie Saturday night that left the top of the Western Conference standings unchanged.
Portland leads with 54 points and Real Salt Lake is second, one point back.
The Timbers clinched a playoff spot earlier in the day when Seattle lost to FC Dallas. It marks the first time Portland has made the playoffs since joining MLS in 2011.
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter is proud of the accomplishment, but doesn't want to stop there.
"It is a big thing for this club, it's a milestone that we're happy about," Porter said. "But it's not just about being in the playoffs. There's still a lot of work to be done and we want to be a club that's not just in the playoffs, but making a run to win it."
Real Salt Lake will clinch a playoff spot if San Jose loses to Los Angeles on Sunday.
Real Salt Lake coach Jason Kreis saw the match as a good preview for the upcoming playoffs.
"I look at it as a positive and say if we can perform like that as we go into the playoffs, thinking we'll have a home-and-away series, this is what you have to do when you're away."
The Timbers had the best opportunities in a match that featured plenty of attacking, first when a pass by Jose Adolfo Valencia barely eluded Kalif Alhassan just in front of goal in the 43rd minute.
Then in the 65th minute, Alhassan was denied by Real Salt Lake goalkeeper Nick Rimando with a diving save to his right. And in second half stoppage time, Rimando made a fantastic point-blank double save to deny Portland a late winner.
"We're going to need a player like Nick to do that if we're going to have any chance to win the Cup," Kreis said.
Real Salt Lake's best opportunity came when Luis Gil's header off Chris Wingert's cross skipped wide of the goal in the 12th minute.
"The goals were there to be scored," Kreis said. "It was just one of those nights where they weren't taken."
Both teams will close out the regular season against Chivas USA. Real Salt Lake will host the last-place team Wednesday and Portland travels to Los Angeles on Saturday.
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