Sebastian Blanco scored a pair of goals and assisted on another to lead the Portland Timbers to a 4-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday in Sandy, Utah, in a key Western Conference matchup.
Blanco's effort helped Portland win for the fourth time in its past six regular-season matches at Utah. The Timbers did not clinch a playoff berth, but one win in their last two games would be enough.
The loss snapped Salt Lake's 14-game home unbeaten streak. RSL is now only a point ahead of the Galaxy for the sixth and final Western Conference playoff spot.
Jeremy Ebobisse put the Timbers on the board late in 33rd minute. Blanco fed a crisp pass to him inside the box. Ebobisse slid forward and latched onto the ball as it zipped toward him. From there, he tapped a left-footer past goalkeeper Nick Rimando who went left to challenge, and Ebobisse threaded the ball inside the right post.
Jefferson Savarino came up with the equalizer in the 55th minute. Joao Plata flicked it ahead to him inside the box. No one marked Savarino, and before any Portland defenders could converge on him, Savarino fired off a right-footer and threaded the ball inside the right post.
The score stayed level until Blanco's first goal in 70th minute. He popped through a swarm of Salt Lake players and unleashed a left-footer that hooked inside the right post to give the Timbers the lead a second time.
Blanco doubled the lead with his second goal only three minutes later. He ran onto a pass from Diego Valeri near the left post and fired it across inside the right post again.
Lucas Melano added an insurance goal in the 88th minute.