Rimando's sublime shot-stopping has been on show in MLS for over a decade.

Grabavoy winner prolongs Portland’s agony against Real Salt Lake (video)

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Leave it to Portland’s nemeses to nullify the team’s most encouraging performance of the season. Growing desperately winless, the Timbers were left empty-handed after their best game of the season, with a late Ned Grabavoy goal at Rio Tinto extending Real Salt Lake’s unbeaten streak over Portland to 11 games. The 1-0 loss also left the Timbers, first in the West at the end of the 2013 regular season, without a victory seven weeks into the 2014 season.

Were it not for some late Nick Rimando heroics, however, the Timbers would have gotten something from Saturday’s game. In the 85th minute, akick save on an Alvas Powell shot from the right of the area left the young Jamaican stonewalled after a one-on-one. Three minutes later, a leaping block toward his upper-right hand corner saw Rimando deny Gastón Fernández. Though Portland created the better chances and held Real Salt Lake’s biggest weapons in check, RSL’s quality in goal allowed the Western Conference champions to extend its dominance over their guests.

At the other end, Portland added another defensive error to the team’s growing list of breakdowns, though whereas it’s been the central defense that’s hurt the team through most of the season, it was the midfield and one veteran fullback that succumbed on Saturday. In the 78th minute, a ball worked from right-to-left at the edge of RSL’s final third left Grabavoy with the ball. The veteran midfielder turning toward goal, surprisingly pulled away from Darlington Nagbe, who has been hampered by a leg injury. Jack Jewsbury, back in the team at right back, was drawn wide by Joao Plata, leaving the left channel exposed. Grabavoy quickly released a shot from the edge of the area that bounced into Donovan Ricketts’ lower left-hand corner.

That the goal came after a strong hour of play from the visitors can be seen as a silver lining. For a Portland team that needs to assess whether the squad has the right ingredients, there were a number of positives in the performance. If the Timbers had played like that in its six previous games, they wouldn’t have entered Rio Tinto winless.

But the team is winless, and as we saw after the Timbers failed to gain momentum from an offensive outburts against Seattle, one good night may not foreshadow of future performance. Portland got up for a team that’s become its second rivals, but with errors at the back and a lack of quality up front, the same questions remain ahead of next week’s trip to Houston.

As for Real Salt Lake, this is who they are. Perhaps it wasn’t the team’s most convincing performance, but it was a resourceful one. Though the team didn’t have the usual success they do against Portland, Jeff Cassar was able to look to his bench, insert Sebastian Velasquez and Joao Plata, and see his first two substitutes contribute to the winning score. Velasquez played the ball across to Grabavoy, while Plata drew Jewsbury out of the channel.

Against a quality opponent, RSL gave the type of performance teams need to content at the top of their conferences. At 3-0-4, that team remains the last of the unbeatens.

MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 3-1 Real Salt Lake (video)

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (37) congratulates forward Alan Gordon (9) for scoring against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of a knockout round MLS playoff soccer match in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are through to the conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they’ll take on the Colorado Rapids beginning Sunday, for the seventh time in eight years with a 3-1 knockout-round triumph over Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Alan Gordon put the home side ahead inside the first quarter-hour before RSL drew level seven minutes later, but Emmanuel Boateng bagged a quickfire brace to complete a pair of brilliant individual exhibitions of dribbling inside the penalty area. With Steven Gerrard unavailable and Robbie Keane only fit to feature off the bench, Bruce Arena turned to Gordon, who gave way to Keane early in the second half after picking up an injury of his own, to play the fulcrum of the Galaxy attack, and it worked to near-perfection during the opening half-hour. Landon Donovan started the game and played 87 minutes, providing the kind of defensive work rate that’s been missing up and down the flanks of LA all season. Sebastian Lletget put in a near-flawless passing performance while playing deep in midfield. Don’t look now, but those are the Galaxy’s biggest question of 2016, all just about answered as the playoffs begin. I won’t say, “I told you so” if/when they win MLS Cup 2016, but…

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

14′ — Gordon finishes from close range for 1-0 — Landon Donovan -> Giovani dos Santos -> Alan Gordon. Just like Bruce Arena drew it up in preseason midseason last month this week this morning.

21′ — Plata converts from the spot after Morales’ dive — Javier Morales was angling for a penalty from the moment he entered the penalty area. All Emmanuel Boateng had to do was look at him, and Morales was going down.

26′ — Boateng weaves through to make it 2-1 — Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Boateng took advantage of some poor defending, and the Galaxy were back in the lead.

34′ — Boateng cuts inside, blows past his man, makes it 3-1 — There’s playing in top gear, and there’s having an extra gear that you rarely have to use because no one else on the field has it. Boateng falls into the latter category.

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Men of the match: Emmanuel Boateng

Goalscorers: Gordon (14′), Plata (21′), Boateng (26′, 34′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): 10 years later, Toronto FC are MLS Cup Playoffs victors. For eight seasons, the playoffs eluded them altogether. Last year, they were one-and-done in embarrassing fashion at the hands of their local rivals. In 2016, it was  their year — a proclamation we’d heard plenty times before — and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Union in the knockout round gets the monkey off the Reds’ back, but more importantly, afforded Sebastian Giovinco, who bagged a goal and an assist on the night (his second straight game with such a line), 90 more minutes of game time after missing more than a month through injuries as the regular season wound down. After 270 minutes of action, the Atomic Ant looks sharp as ever, and destined to terrorize New York City FC, whom TFC will face in the conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

15′ — Atlidore feeds Giovinco for 1-0 — The first playoff goal in TFC’s 10-year history. Poor goalkeeping, ball-watching defending, terrible touches, an overhead cross, and a strike off the crossbar. There’s a lot going on here. Watch it all right here.

49′ — Osorio slams home from the corner for 2-0 — The Union have been bad at defending set pieces all season, so is it at all surprising a set-piece gaffe effectively ended their season? No, it’s not.

73′ — Bedoya puts the loose ball home for 2-1 — Speaking of failing to effectively clear a corner kick, the Union were gifted a lifeline 15 minutes before full-time.

85′ — Altidore puts it out of reach, seals it for TFC — Ken Tribbet did not have the best night a center back has ever seen. His final blunder resulted in Jozy Altidore reclaiming TFC’s two-goal lead, and ending the Union’s 2016 season.

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Men of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (15′), Osorio (49′), Bedoya (73′), Altidore (85′)

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

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VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]