REAL SALT LAKE AT TIMBERS
When/where: 7:30 p.m. today at Jeld-Wen Field, Portland.
TV: Live on Root Sports (Comcast cable Ch. 34, 734).
Radio: FM 95.5 (AM 940 Spanish broadcast).
Records: Portland has 2 wins, 3 losses and 1 tie. Real Salt Lake is 4-0-0.
Why to watch: Unbeaten in league play, RSL is perhaps the league’s best team right now and is unbeaten over its last 18 MLS regular-season. The Timbers will try to continue their home-turf success.
POTENTIAL TIMBERS LINEUP
Forwards: Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza.
Midfielders: Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chará, Darlington Nagbe.
Defenders: Rodney Wallace, Mamadou “Futty” Danso, Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall.
Goalkeeper: Troy Perkins.
Key alternatives: MF James Marcelin, MF Adam Moffat, MF Ryan Pore, MF Sal Zizzo, D Kevin Goldthwaite, D Steve Purdy, D David Horst, GK Adin Brown.
ABOUT REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake has been one of the top franchises in MLS, since winning the league title in 2009, its fifth season. Coach Jason Kreis was the team’s captain before he shifted to head coach in May of 2007. At that time, he was the career scoring leader in MLS. Real Salt Lake plays in Rio Tinto Stadium (cap. 20,000) in Sandy, Utah.
Watch for: Both teams enter today’s match with lineup questions. Does Portland coach John Spencer juggle his back four? Does rookie Darlington Nagbe, who says he’s fully fit for the first time since undergoing hernia surgery, get his first start in midfield? RSL is leaving at least three starters at home, and coach Jason Kreis told the Salt Lake Tribune that he is “on the fence” about how many other regulars will play. One who will is midfielder Kyle Beckerman. The RSL captain who missed Wednesday’s match because of card accumulation, is expected to play. RSL has scored eight goals and allowed one in four league games, and won 2-0 at New England playing many reserves early this season.
Energy level: Figure the Timbers play with energy similar to their two home victories. The outcome might depend on how much passion RSL brings to the contest.
Player to watch: Diego Chará, Portland’s first designated player, figures to make his first start alongside Jack Jewsbury in midfield. While it will take time for chemistry to develop — Chará joined the Timbers just a week ago — it will be interesting to see how both players’ roles develop.
• Spencer said concentration lapses have contributed to his team’s struggles on defense: “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing (Saturday). Be it Utah (Premier Development League) or Real Salt Lake, don’t give up chances. If you do you’ll get punished and you’ll lose the game.”
• Nagbe said he spoke briefly with former Akron University teammate Steve Zakuani, who had his leg broken on an ugly tackle by Colorado’s Brian Mullan last week. “He said the surgery went well. And his family is in town, so he’s doing well.”
Of his reaction to the play that injured Zakuani, Nagbe said, “Seeing that happen to one of my friends, I just felt terrible. Seeing that happen to one of my friends, I felt like if it happened to him it could happen to me.”
• The Timbers and the Timbers Army supporters group plan a pre-match tribute to long-time fan Gisele Currier, who died on Sunday. A moment of silence is planned 20 minutes before kickoff, and fans are encouraged to bring a rose to the game.
• Injury report: Timbers — Out: FW Bright Dike (Achilles rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (Achilles tendinitis); FW Brian Umony (knee MCL sprain); Questionable: MF Peter Lowry (knee MCL strain); MF Ryan Pore (groin strain); Probable: GK Adin Brown (hamstring strain); DF David Horst (ankle sprain) … Real Salt Lake — Probable: FW Paulo Jr. (hamstring strain); FW Álvaro Saborío (foot contusion).
Tickets: As of Friday, limited tickets remained for today’s match, and for next Friday’s game against Philadelphia. Plenty of seats remain for Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup qualifier against San Jose. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster outlets or at Jeld-Wen Field.
Gates open: 90 minutes before kickoff for most fans.
Getting there: Parking is extremely limited near the stadium. MAX light rail runs extra trains on match days.
Radio coverage: 95.5 FM has one-hour pregame and postgame shows.