Timbers at Real Salt Lake
Kickoff: 6:30 p.m. Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah.
TV: KPTV 12.
Radio: 750 AM.
Timbers (0-2-4, 4 points): Possession was the buzzword this week as the Timbers work through early-season struggles. In 2013, Portland was among the best in possessing the ball. Seattle (narrowly) and Chivas USA (53 percent) had more of the ball than Portland in the last two games. Now the Timbers go on the road to face an opponent that also thrives on possession.
Coach Caleb Porter said this week that taking better care of the ball was a point of emphasis. Will Johnson and Diego Valeri have taken a team-high 18 shots this season and each has one goal. Maximiliano Urruti has one goal on 15 shots. Darlington Nagbe has been fouled a league-leading 23 times and has taken only five shots.
Real Salt Lake (2-0-4, 10 points): Former MLS goalkeeper Jeff Cassar is the new RSL coach, replacing Jason Kreis, who was hired to coach the new New York City FC team that will enter MLS next season. Cassar was an assistant coach under Kreis for seven seasons. Real Salt Lake had the Timbers number last season, beating Portland four times along with two draws, including two wins in the Western Conference final. RSL is the last unbeaten team in MLS this season, though it has only two wins through six games. Alvaro Sabario leads RSL with three goals, and Kyle Beckerman, Joao Plata and Luke Mulholland have scored twice. The dangerous Javier Morales is one of three players with two assists.
RSL defender Chris Schular on the challenge of playing Portland: “They’re going to come in fighting. They haven’t had very much success so far, but they’re a good team and everybody knows it, and they know it. So they’re going to come out and try to steal some points on the road. So if we can come out and set the tone and get an early goal, we can put them back into that pattern that they’ve been showing so far this season.”