MatchDay: Timbers at Real Salt Lake

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

Published:

 

Timbers at Real Salt Lake

When/where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah.

TV: Live on KPDX 49 (Comcast cable channel 13).

Radio: FM 101.1 (AM 940 Spanish broadcast).

Records: Real Salt Lake is 15-11-7, third in the West. Portland is 11-14-8, sixth in the West and out of the playoff race.

Why to watch: It’s the last chance to see the Timbers this season. And Real Salt Lake is trying to hold off FC Dallas for third place in the Western Conference.

THE PLAYOFF PUZZLE

Portland is out of contention. Real Salt Lake is tied with FC Dallas for the third spot in the Western Conference, with Salt Lake holding the tie-breaker. Salt Lake needs to maintain that position to avoid playing a wild card playoff match next week.

THE MATCHUP

The last time: Kenny Cooper scored and Portland snapped RSL’s 18-match MLS unbeaten streak with a 1-0 win on April 30 at Jeld-Wen Field.

Timbers shorthanded: Midfielders Sal Zizzo and Darlington Nagbe are expected to miss this their second consecutive game with knee injuries.

What’s left? Eliminated from playoff contention, the question is how much passion Portland will bring to this match. Coach John Spencer was clear when he talked with media on Friday about his expectations: “As I’ve said before … it doesn’t matter when you put on a Timbers uniform, you’re going out to try and win the game,” Spencer said. “We’ll be putting the strongest 11 out there.”

What about draft positioning? Portland currently holds the ninth spot in January’s SuperDraft. D.C. United and Chicago could finish ahead of Portland with wins if the timbers lose on Saturday, which would move Portland to No. 7 in the draft.

NOTABLE

Scoring leaders: Real Salt Lake — Alvaro Saborio 10 goals, Fabian Espindola 10 goals; Kyle Beckerman 9 assists. Portland — Kenny Cooper 8 goals; Jack Jewsbury 7 goals and 8 assists.

Spencer on Wednesday’s wild finish at D.C. United: “It was entertaining for the fans. I don’t think it was entertaining for the coaches. I can’t fault the effort” from the team at the end of the match, or at any point during the season.

Real success: RSL won the MLS Cup two seasons ago, and this spring was in the final of the CONCACAF Champions League. Dating back to 2008, it has lost only five times at home in MLS play (38-5-18). Interestingly, Portland opened this season on the road against the defending MLS Cup winner, Colorado.