Blanco scores twice, Timbers beat Real Salt Lake 3-1

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastian Blanco (10) celebrates a goal against Real Salt Lake during an MLS soccer match Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, in Sandy, Utah. (Scott G Winterton/Deseret News via AP)

SANDY, Utah (AP) — Sebastian Blanco scored two goals and the Portland Timbers beat Real Salt Lake 3-1 on Wednesday night to clinch home field for the first round of the playoffs.

Blanco put in a header in the 17th minute and scored on a give-and-go with Jaroslaw Niezgoda to finish a counter attack just before halftime. In between, Blanco centered the ball with pace that went off Aaron Herrera for an own goal.

With the season ending Sunday, Portland (16-13-4) is locked into the fourth seed in the Western Conference.

Salt Lake (13-14-6) could have clinched a playoff spot, but only managed a penalty-kick goal by Albert Rusnak, his career-high 11th, in the closing minutes.

Portland swept all three games this season by a combined 12-4 margin.

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