But Saturday's 0-0 draw at JELD-WEN Field cemented one thing: RSL, now with 53 points, will be a fixture in the playoffs entering its final week of the 2013 regular season.
"I look at it as a positive and if we can perform like that as we go into the playoffs, thinking that we'll have a home-and-away series, this is what you have to do when you're away," said RSL coach Jason Kreis. "I'm hopeful that we can take some lessons out of this and carry it through the playoffs."
Now comes the waiting game.
Entering Sunday, a trio of teams L.A., Seattle and Colorado sat behind the first-place Timbers and behind second-place RSL, knotted in a tie for third place with 51 points.
Thus leaving five teams jockeying for crucial seeding. A top-three seed guarantees a first-round bye and eliminates having to play a knockout match on either Oct. 30 or 31.
"A lot of people probably didn't expect us to be in the position that we're in now," said defender Lovel Palmer, whose defensive effort against Timber star Darlington Nagbe helped preserve a point for RSL. "We're confident in the work that we've been doing and the sky is the limit. I put nothing beyond this team."
If a first-round bye is in store for RSL, it will need to beat Chivas USA in the regular-season finale Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Rio Tinto Stadium. Both RSL and Portland face the Goats in their final match of the regular season, as the Timbers will travel to Carson, Calif., to take on Chivas on Saturday.
"I think that anything could happen," said defender Nat Borchers, "so we have to go out there and plan on going for three points."
Chivas USA at Real Salt Lake
P Wednesday, 7 p.m.
TV • CW30