Timbers MatchDay: vs. Real Salt Lake

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



Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field.

TV/radio: ROOT Sports (Cable Ch. 34/734) / FM 101.1.

Tickets: www.portlandtimbers.com; 503-553-5555. The game is sold out.

Where they stand: Portland has 13 wins, 14 ties and five losses (53 points). The Timbers are first in the Western Conference and tied with New York for the most points in MLS. Real Salt Lake (15-7-10, 52 points) is second. A win or a tie today will clinch the Timbers first MLS playoff berth. A win also would guarantee Portland a first-round bye and keep the Timbers in the hunt for the Supporters’ Shield trophy as the MLS regular-season champion.

Head to head: Real Salt Lake has a win and a draw against Portland this season, and also eliminated the Timbers from the U.S. Open Cup. All-time in MLS, RSL has four wins, one loss and two draws against Portland.

Timbers story: Portland is on a six-game unbeaten run and is looking to polish off a dominating regular season at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers have lost once in their 16 home matches (11-1-4). The Timbers have won four consecutive home matches. The only home loss was to Montreal in the second game of the season. Forward Maximiliano Urruti (hamstring injury)will not play. Coach Caleb Porter on Friday said that midfielder Diego Valeri (adductor strain) will play, either off the bench or as a starter. With Urruti sidelined, Porter will choose his starting striker among Ryan Johnson, Frederic Piquionne or Jose Valencia. Timbers captain Will Johnson has played only 62 minutes against his former team. He injured his shoulder in the Open Cup loss at Salt Lake and did not play in either MLS match against RSL. Ryan Johnson, Rodney Wallace and Alvas Powell returned midweek from international duty and will be available.

Real Salt Lake story: Idle since Oct. 5, RSL has a win, a draw and two losses in its last four games and has scored only twice in its last five league matches. RSL will be without suspended midfielders Javier Morales and Abdoulie Mansally. But Timbers’ killer Alvaro Saborio has returned from international duty. The all-time RSL leader with 65 goals in 110 matches, the Costa Rican forward has 11 goals in 14 MLS appearances this season including. Against Portland Saborio has seven goals in six games, including two this season.