Matchday Preview: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers - August 30, 2013

Timbers face RSL for third time in August; Watch at 7pm PT on NBC Sports Network


REAL SALT LAKE vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
August 30, 2013 (WEEK 27, MLS Game #243)
7 p.m. PT (NBCSN, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM)

Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers meet for the second time in nine days in a critical match for both clubs in the chase for Western Conference playoff positions when they clash Friday night at Rio Tinto Stadium before an NBC Sports Network audience. RSL still hold the top spot in the division and the MLS overall table following their dominant 4- 0 win against Columbus last weekend, while the Timbers started their road swing with a 1-0 loss at archrival Seattle. A stoppage-time goal – after going a man down – pulled RSL back into a 3-3 tie in Portland on Aug. 21.

PORTLAND TIMBERS
The Portland Timbers suffered their second consecutive defeat on the road, dropping a 1-0 decision to archrival Seattle Sounders FC on Sunday evening at CenturyLink Field. The Timbers are in a tie for third place in the Western Conference with 39 points from 25 matches.

LAST MATCH

TEAM NEWS

  • Despite the loss, the Timbers are tied for third-best road winning percentage in MLS.
     
  • “I thought at times we were the better team. But, in the end, we're going to keep suffering if we don't find goals and if we don't continue to sort out set pieces,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “This game will continue to be cruel and we'll continue to leave games feeling disappointed unless we find goals and unless we stop goals.”
     
  • “Once they scored the first goal, to some extent, they had more time and space to operate, which is to be expected, because we're now pushing through to try and level it,” Porter said. “But up to that point, we really looked to be the team that was in control, the team that was pushing the game, the team that was going to be in a position to win the game.”
     
  • “With the way we play, with the way we built this team, with depth we have, with the mental toughness we have, with the fighting spirit we have in this locker room, we will go into every game, we will have the ball, we'll be tough to break down defensively and we'll be in positions to score goals,” said Porter. “And yet, we won't win unless we find goals and we won't win unless we stop teams from executing set pieces.”
     
  • “I thought we were fantastic,” fullback Michael Harrington said. “They really didn’t have much at all. It’s one of the most talented, if not the most talented front lines in the league, and I don’t think they really had much at all.”
     
  • With Will Johnson still sidelined, for a third consecutive match, with a shoulder injury, and Diego Chara suspended, Kalif Alhassan was inserted into the starting lineup for the first time since July 19.
     
  • Jack Jewsbury also came back into the first team after not featuring in either of the last two matches, vs. FC Dallas and Real Salt Lake.
     
  • “I haven’t talked about injuries all season long because that’s just not my style to make excuses,” Porter said. “I could make excuses going into every game because we’ve had injuries almost every single game. In the end, nobody cares if you have injuries; they want you to figure it out.”

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake rolled to their first victory in three weeks in league play, cruising to a 4-0 victory against the Columbus Crew on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. RSL lead the Western Conference and MLS overall table with 45 points from 26 games.

LAST MATCH

  • Real took the lead first-half stoppage time through some good fortune. A Javier Morales free kick from about 10 yards outside the box went directly at the wall, but deflected through it and off Kyle Beckerman into the net. Crew goalkeeper Matt Lampson was wrong-footed and could only watch the ball go past after the deflection.
     
  • Six minutes after halftime, the lead was doubled when Olmes Garcia sent a cross across the box and Devon Sandoval easily slotted home.
     
  • Real Salt Lake made it 3-0 in the 82nd minute, Luis Gil showing some slick movement in fooling a defender before tucking a shot past Lampson. Beckerman capped off his brace in the 89th minute with a one-time finish from 12 yards out after a centering pass from the left deflected off a defender.
     
  • The Crew finished the game a man down when Federico Higuain was ejected after receiving his second yellow card of the night during second-half stoppage time.
     
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made six changes to the team that came back for a 3-3 draw with the Portland Timbers at JELD-WEN Field. Nick Rimando came in between the posts for Jeff Attinella, Carlos Salcedo started in central defense for Brandon McDonald, Luis Gil and Kyle Beckerman came into the midfield in place of Khari Stephenson and the suspended Yordany Alvarez, and Olmes Garcia and Devon Sandoval started up top for Robbie Findley and Joao Plata.
     
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Luis Gil, Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy (Cole Grossman 87) - Javier Morales - Olmes Garcia (Robbie Findley 62), Devon Sandoval (Sebastian Velasquez 81).

TEAM NEWS

  • RSL scored a season-high four goals for a second time this season, also netting four in a 4-1 win against Chivas USA on May 19 in Carson.
     
  • “I thought it was the most complete performance we’ve had in a match this year, and it comes at the right time because we’re at our most critical stretch,” said Real head coach Jason Kreis. “We have a lot to play for and a lot to look forward to. We needed to put some confidence behind our boot and that’s exactly what we got."
     
  • Real have scored goals in 18 consecutive games, hitting for multiple goals in 14 of those. They’ve hit for three or more goals on seven occasions.
     
  • “That same situation, where I think we made five or six changes from Wednesday to Saturday, and we get the right number of fresh players on the field, it’s how we can play a high intensity match like we played,” said Kreis. “Big credit to the guys that played three 90’s, but also credit to all of the fresh players who contributed.”
     
  • Kyle Beckerman scored two goals in a game for just the second time in his 14-year MLS career. Beckerman also scored twice April 12, 2008, for RSL vs. D.C. United.
     
  • “Goals are just fun. They’re fun to score. It’s a great feeling after it happens, and it’s always good to get on the stat line to help the team in that way,” Beckerman said. “We’re just going to continue to try and get better. I think that we can get even better than we were tonight and keep improving, keep our head down, keep working hard and get ready for the playoffs.”
     
  • Luis Gil scored his first goal since July 3, adding to his single-season career-high with his fourth goal this season.
     
  • “I feel like personally I have been more committed defensively, but my offense has been coming around. I think just lately I have been getting more into the attack and getting some chances to score besides with my head,” Gil said. “ ... But now, I am more comfortable and starting to concentrate on going forward, putting myself in position to score goals.”
     
  • Making his first start since June 29 in a league game, Devon Sandoval scored his second MLS goal. He had made just one appearance in the intervening eight MLS matches.
     
  • “I’ve never been even close to coaching a team having five forwards I really believe in,” Kreis said. “I’m extremely happy with them.”

REFEREE: Baldomero Toledo. AR1 (bench): Corey Rockwell; AR2 (opposite): C.J. Morgante; 4th: Robert Sibiga
MLS Career: 161 games; FC/gm: 25.1; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 59; pens: 61

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: POR -- Pa Modou Kah (caution accumulation; through Sept. 1)
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR -- Ben Zemanski
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL -- Ned Grabavoy, Olmes Garcia, Lovel Palmer, Yordany Alvarez, Chris Wingert, Javier Morales ... POR -- Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Will Johnson
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME
 (6 meetings): Real 3 wins, 12 goals ... Timbers 1 win, 8 goals ... Ties 2
AT SALT LAKE (3 meetings): Real 2 wins, 6 goals ... Timbers 0 wins, 2 goals ... Ties 1
FUTURE MATCH: 10/19: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT

  • The teams are meeting for the second time in league play this season, within a nine-day span. They reached a wild 3-3 draw Aug. 21 at JELD-WEN Field as Cole Grossman scored deep in stoppage time to pull a 10-man RSL back into a 3-3 draw.
  • The Timbers have won once in six league meetings all-time – a 1-0 win in the first encounter between the clubs, April 30, 2011 in Portland.
  • The teams also played in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Alvaro Saborio scored in the seventh minute and Joao Plata netted in the 78th to lead RSL to a 2-1 victory; Diego Valeri scored a late stoppage time goal for Portland.

LAST MEETING
8/21: POR 3, RSL 3 (Wallace 24; Valeri 57; Alhassan 86 – Borchers 38; Morales 43; Grossman 93+)

  • Portland struck first in the 24th minute when Diego Valeri picked out Rodney Wallace at the top of the six on a free kick from the left, and Wallace sent a clinical header past RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
  • But RSL found the equalizer in the 38th minute after a Javier Morales cross found Joao Plata in the box. Plata saw his shot stopped by Portland ‘keeper Donovan Ricketts, but Nat Borchers was on the spot to tap home the rebound from close range.
  • Real pulled ahead just before halftime when Morales got tangled up with Portland defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, leading referee Ricardo Salazar to point to the spot, where Morales easily converted. But the Timbers pulled level in the 56th minute after defender Brandon McDonald was called for a handball in the box, and Diego Valeri calmly converted the spot kick.
  • With 11 minutes to play, RSL went a man down when Yordany Alvarez saw a straight red card for a hard tackle on Diego Chara. The Timbers took advantage four minutes from the end when a cross from the left fell right to the feet of Kalif Alhassan off an RSL defender, and he blasted home from 12 yards out.
  • Yet Real had one final answer. A low pass from the right flank was cleared by Jean-Baptiste -- but only as far as Cole Grossman, and he stroked home a low shot inside the right post from the edge of the box.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-1-3): Donovan Ricketts - Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington - Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski - Diego Valeri (Ryan Miller 88) - Darlington Nagbe (Kalif Alhassan 78), Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia 63), Rodney Wallace.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Jeff Attinella - Tony Beltran, Brandon McDonald, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Ned Grabavoy, Yordany Alvarez (ejected 79), Khari Stephenson (Luis Gil 62) - Javier Morales - Robbie Findley (Olmes Garcia 75), Joao Plata (Cole Grossman 82).