Following a 3-1 win over San Jose Earthquakes in the last match, Portland Timbers earned a place in the postseason for the third consecutive year. That must-win game against San Jose was Portkland's won making after the team hit the bumpy road at the most crucial stage in the season. But all's well that ends well. The thing that matters most is that Portland are in the playoffs. A few more wins and the team may even go all the way.
Real Salt Lake City meanwhile, finished with 16 and 8 draws and 10 defeats from their 34 regular-season games. They ended the season with two consecutive wins and earned the right to host Portland Timbers due to a better finish in the points table.
Real Salt Lake City's respectable 3rd place finish in the season doesn't present the true picture of how they have performed throughout the whole season. Their position is mainly down to their good records against the weak teams.
But the big worrying sign for Real Salt lake is their record against the big teams – only one win against the other western conference teams that made the post-season.
Right tactics and tenacity can make the difference for sure, but in big games, when the playoffs start, more often than not, a team requires a player or two to turn up or score a goal on pure skill, and RSL certainly lacks that individual.
Timbers meanwhile hit the road due to their inferior record in the regular season. But the way Portland set themselves up in away games, it may be a blessing in disguise for the visitors.
Their quick counter-attacking approach, and the pressure on RSLC to perform in front of their own fans, Timbers could find space in the middle, which they seem not to when playing at home when teams use bunker to stop them.
The Major League Soccer match will be played between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium, in Sandy, Utah, United States of America. The ground has a capacity of 20,213.
The game will start at 07:30 AM (IST), on Sunday, October 20.
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Recent form (Last six matches)
Real Salt Lake – W L D L W W
Portland Timbers – L L D D D W
Real Salt Lake Team News:
Three players in the form of Jordan Allen (knee injury), defender Tony Beltran (knee injury) and midfielder Nick Besler (knee injury) will be missing the game for the hosts due to their respective injuries.
No other injury concerns for RSLC.
The big question ahead of this game for RSLC is who will start in the heart of the defence. We saw two different pairing in RSLC's last two games. Nedum Onuoha started both those games, with Justen Glad and Marcelo Silva getting the opportunities to impress. Toia and Herrera will definitely start out wide on the flanks.
But in goal, 40-year-old Nick Rimando will be standing. He is retiring after this season, so will be extra-motivated to taste the biggest prize in American football.
Damir Kreilach, Albert Rusnak, Corey Baird, and Jefferson Savarino will start in the advance positions while Beckerman and Luiz should form the base in the midfield.
Real Salt Lake Probable XI:
Rimando (GK), Toia, Onuoha, Glad / Silva, Herrera, Beckerman, Luiz, Baird, Savarino, Rusnak, Kreilach
Portland Timbers FC Team News:
Portland will have to deal with their leading goalscorer Brian Fernandez in this game. The 25-year-old Argentine, who has scored 11 times this season, is suspended for this match.
Goalkeeper Jeff Attinella remains out due to a right shoulder injury.
But the player Portland are desperate to have in this game is Diego Valeri. The 33-year-old failed to even make the bench against San Jose due to an injury, but the head coach Giovanni Savarese confirmed that Valeri is available for this match.
In addition, defender Modou Jadama (left foot injury), midfielder Andres Flores (facial injury) and goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh (right thigh injury) are listed as questionable for this game.
Portland Timbers Probable XI:
Calrk (GK), Villafana, Tuiloma, Mabiala, Moreira, Paredes, Chara, Blanco, Valeri, Asprilla, Ebobisse
Likely to score:
Captain and Vice-Captain Selection:
PT vs RSLC Dream11 potential winner:
Portland Timbers are favorite to win this game.