Real Salt Lake took a firm grip on their Major League Soccer Western Conference championship tie on Sunday with a 4-2 first-leg victory over Portland.
Fresh from eliminating two-time defending champions the Los Angeles Galaxy in the previous round, Real Salt Lake were slow out of the blocks.
They surrendered a goal 14 minutes in when Timbers captain Will Johnson belted a free-kick from 25 yards out over the wall and into the net.
Real Salt Lake grabbed the equalizer in the 35th as Chris Schuler headed home a corner kick by Javier Morales.
They extended the lead six minutes later with a goal by Robbie Findley, and padded their lead with second-half goals by Devon Sandoval and Morales.
Portland pulled one back in injury time, when Jack Jewsbury sent a superb cross into the area for Frederic Piquionne to head into the top right corner.
The late goal could prove crucial for the Timbers, who host the second leg on 24 November.
The winners of the tie will play the Eastern Conference champions in the MLS Cup final on 7 December.
Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo battled to a goalless draw Saturday in a hard-fought first leg of the Eastern Conference championship.