Jefferson Savarino scored his first career MLS postseason goal in the 87th minute to lift Real Salt Lake to a 2-1 victory over the Portland Timbers in the first round of the MLS Cup playoffs in Sandy, Utah on Saturday.
Damir Kreilach also scored his fourth playoff goal in as many postseason appearances for third-seeded RSL, who advanced to face second-seeded Seattle next Wednesday night. All four playoff games Saturday were won by the home team.
Nick Rimando made three saves in the victory, prolonging his career by at least one more game in what is his 20th and final MLS season.
Dairon Asprilla scored for sixth-seeded Portland, the defending Western Conference champion, who fell to RSL after winning both of the teams' regular-season meetings.
Savarino struck the winner on a sequence created by Joao Plata, who cut inside from the left and drove a slow, low cross toward Albert Rusnak. After Portland defender Bill Tuiloma mistimed a clearance attempt and narrowly nicked the ball, Rusnak let the ball roll past him to Savarino, who was unmarked at the back post and drove a low finish between Steve Clark and his left post.
Asprilla pulled Portland level just two minutes after halftime, finding a sliver of space at the back post and rising to head Sebastian Blanco's cross from the right back across goal and inside Rimando's left post.
The equalizer came on Portland's first goal-bound attempt of the evening, and set off a sequence of plenty of opportunities for both teams.
On the other end, Rimando sprawled left to palm away Sebastian Blanco's effort from distance in the 66th minute, then lunged to his right to corral Diego Valeri's strike from a similar position in the 68th. And Rimando could only watch as Blanco's overhead kick deflected off Nedum Onuoha and just outside his left post.
Just before Savarino's winner, both Portland's Valeri and Salt Lake's Rusnak dragged low efforts just wide of the post.
Salt Lake dominated the first half, outshooting Portland 9-0 and leading 5-0 in efforts on target, but held only a 1-0 advantage after Kreilach's opener.
Corey Baird provided the service, cutting in from the left before delivering a right-footed cross, and Kreilach slipped his defender to nod a header past Clark in the 28th minute.
Clark made a remarkable save in the 14th minute. After getting caught out of his net on a clearance attempt, he raced back to leap and push Aaron Herrera's slicing attempt -- from more than 40 yards away -- over the bar.