Know Your Timbers’ Opponent: Real Salt Lake


This weekly column will break down the opposition facing the Portland Timbers, hopefully giving you an insight into the challenge we can expect the Timbers to face.

The Portland Timbers travel to Utah to play Real Salt Lake.

At the end of last season, the Utahn’s lost their head coach Jason Kreis to new expansion Team, NYC FC. Kreis lead them to the playoffs every year since 2008, to two MLS Cup finals and the CONCACAF Final in 2010.

Also, defensive coach CJ Brown left to return to his native Chicago. In fact, the only returning member of the back-room staff is new head coach Jeff Cassar. Promoting from within was seen as key to maintaining locker-room stability, after Kreis’s departure.

On the pitch, very little has changed. Former Timbers full back, Lovell Palmer joined CJ Brown at the Chicago fire. In came Luke Mulholland, from the Tampa Bay Rowdies. He played the Timbers last year in the US Open Cup, striking the woodwork with a spectacular free kick. Mulholland has been a sensation this year. He’s scored a couple of goals already, and had another incorrectly ruled off against LA. The Timbers need to watch for him making the poachers followup runs into the box.

At the back, USMNT keeper Nick Rimondo would appear to be out for the third straight game. He picked up a knock against Mexico. Jeff Attinella has shown he is a more than able replacement for Rimondo. Schuler and Borchers in the center of defense are rock solid. The fullbacks, Wingert & Beltran, have a tendency to press forward. If they lose possession, then they can be exposed at the back. This has happened a few times this season.

Forward Alvaro Saborio is still a polarizing figure. 12 goals in 16 games last season, he scores the clutch goals, but is often found wanting when marking on corners and set pieces. Look for the Timbers to try to expose Saborio on every deadball situation.

Up front, RSL don’t have a settled partner for Saborio. Joao Plata, Olmes Gracia & Devon Sandoval have all had time this season, though none looks like a lock for the starting position. One reason for this is that the strikers tend not to create chances for each other. Perferring to take more difficult shots, than square the ball for the supporting runner.

In the midfield, Kyle Beckerman & Javi Morales are still running the show. Notable contributions from Ned Grabavoy and Luis Gil, have meant that Salt Lake are still undefeated this season. RSL have given up a couple of leads late in games this season, so there are clearly problems with closing out games. (That should sound familiar to Timbers fans).

RSL are a solid team, who play possession football, and look to create chances by developing space with a series of one or 2 touch passes. If Joao Plata is healthy, his speed will be lethal for the Timbers center backs. Morales will keep Chara & Johnson busy in the midfield. A very organised team, with a propensity for denfensive lapses.

Timbers Season Record: 0-2-4

Last Timbers result: 1-1 home tie v Chivas USA

RSL Season Record: 2-0-4

Last RSL result: 2-2 road tie v Philadelphia Union

Game info:

Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, UT
Kick Off at 6:30PM PDT
Watch live on Root Sports at Pizza Schmizza