MX23RW : Thursday, October 28 10:01:25| >> :600:220414:220414:
Sep 26, 2021 at 3.30am UK at Jeld-Wen Field
PortlandPortland Timbers
6-1
Salt LakeReal Salt Lake
Mora (27'), Asprilla (36'), Chara (48'), Chara (68'), Niezgoda (85'), Paredes (88')
Chara (45+4')
FT(HT: 2-1)
Kreilach (41')
Ruiz (51'), Glad (73')

Preview: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's Major League Soccer clash between Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Two sides separated by just one point in the MLS Western Conference standings will hope to maintain their playoff positions as the Portland Timbers host Real Salt Lake on Saturday from Providence Park.

Portland have come to life, currently in fifth, unbeaten in their last five games, while Claret and Cobalt have squeaked out a pair of one-goal victories as they sit in sixth, but only three points clear of eighth-place Los Angeles FC.


Match preview

Portland Timbers forward Felipe Mora (9) celebrates his goal with forward Dairon Asprilla (27) against the Minnesota United in the first half at Allianz Field on July 24, 2021© Reuters

Since the end of August, we have seen a very different Portland Timbers team, who are starting to play to their potential like we all expected they would at the start of the year.

The effort, focus and execution that we only saw rare glimpses of in the first half of this season has shown up in spades over their past five matches as Giovanni Savarese is finally beginning to see his players show some consistency with each game.

That balance has brought a belief back to this squad, who were struggling to find chemistry and confidence with all of their injuries, while also in danger of missing the postseason.

All of a sudden, hosting a playoff game is very much a possibility as they sit only a point behind the Los Angeles Galaxy for fourth, but they are by no means out of the woods when it comes to missing the playoffs either, currently only four points above the postseason line, so they cannot afford to start losing now.

After an uncharacteristically poor display at the back last Wednesday against the Colorado Rapids, they were a lot sharper defensively against the Black-and-Gold, conceding only three shots on target and earning a big three points.

If they can end this month with a couple more victories, it should put them in a very comfortable position to make the postseason as their next two games are against teams slightly below them in the table (Real Salt Lake and LAFC).

Real Salt Lake celebrate a goal from penalty kick on June 24, 2021© Reuters

You have to give Real Salt Lake a lot of credit for their resiliency this year, as they always seem to be able to earn three points when they need it the most.

They are only just clinging to one of the seven playoff positions right now, but on Saturday, Pablo Mastroeni put together a great game plan against the Seattle Sounders, and his players executed it to near perfection, conceding only two shots or target while not allowing them into a lot of dangerous areas.

For the first time since the departure of Freddy Juarez, this team were able to stifle their opponents last week and limit the threat of the opposition, something that has been an issue under the leadership of Mastroeni, where they had conceded 12 goals in his first four games in charge.

Playing on the road has been a problem for them all year long, though they were able to fire 13 shots on target in their last road match, winning a see-saw battle 4-3 against the San Jose Earthquakes, their first actual road win since April 24. Unless you count their 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Whitecaps in July when they were technically the visiting team, though the Caps were playing their home games at Rio Tinto Stadium at that time because of COVID restrictions.

Finding consistency throughout a 90-minute encounter will be necessary for them down the homestretch of the regular season, as they tend to play well in spurts throughout a game but have not put together a solid performance in an entire match in quite some time.

One side that they have struggled to shut down in recent memory would be these very Timbers, who scored on their only three shots on target the last time Salt Lake came to Providence Park in early August, and their previous performance there was even worse when they conceded four times to Portland in 2020.

Portland Timbers Major League Soccer form:
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • W

Real Salt Lake Major League Soccer form:
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W



Team News

Portland Timbers head coach Giovanni Savarese directs his team against Real Salt Lake during the first half at Providence Park on August 7, 2021© Reuters

George Fochive scored his second of the year last Sunday, which held up as the game-winner, Dairon Asprilla notched his sixth of the campaign and his 13th with the club in the regular season since 2014 and Diego Valeri collected his 300th appearance for Portland in all competitions.

The Timbers will be missing defender Larrys Mabiala with a yellow card suspension, Ismaila Jome is gone for the season after undergoing left Achilles tendon surgery, Jeff Attinella went through season-ending right rectus femoris surgery, Andy Polo is done for the year with a right quad and knee injury and Eryk Williamson remains out with a left ACL tear.

Dario Zuparic is the Timbers iron man, having played 1890 minutes this season, the most of any player on the team, and Sebastian Blanco has five goals for Portland against Salt Lake as he set up their winning goal in their earlier meeting against them last month.

David Ochoa made his third successive start in goal for Claret and Cobalt last Saturday, collecting his fourth clean sheet this year, while Damir Kreilach scored his 10th goal of the season and Aaron Herrera made an immediate impact in his first game back from suspension, setting up the winning goal against the Sounders.

Zack Farnsworth, Marcelo Silva, Bobby Wood, Andrew Brody, Zac MacMath and Noah Powder are all doubtful for this match with undisclosed injuries.

Claret and Cobalt had a very different starting 11 against Seattle, with Erik Holt, Toni Datkovic, Aaron Herrera, Everton Luiz and Pablo Ruiz all earning starts.

Portland Timbers possible starting lineup:
Clark; Van Rankin, McGraw, Zuparic, Bravo; Paredes, D. Chara; Y. Chara, Valeri, Asprilla; Mora

Real Salt Lake possible starting lineup:
Ochoa; Glad, Powder, Holt, Datkovic; Herrera, Ruiz, Meram; Rusnak, Kreilach, Rubin


SM words green background

We say: Portland Timbers 2-2 Real Salt Lake

When these two teams meet in Portland, it is traditionally a joy to watch for neutral fans as there have been 13 goals scored between them in the last two matches played at Providence Park.

There is a lot more consistency to the Timbers' game of late, but Salt Lake are at their best when their backs are up against the wall, and that might be the case for them this weekend as a loss could drop them below the playoff line.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting under 3.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Under 3.5:data


ID:465091:1false2false3false:QQ:: from db desktop :LenBod:collect13449:

How you voted: Portlvs vs Salt Lake

Portland Timbers
78.6%
Draw
14.3%
Real Salt Lake
7.1%
14
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Tables

Eastern Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England33227465402573
2Nashville SCNashville321216453312252
3Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia321311845341150
4New York City FCNY City321381152341847
5Orlando City32121194747047
6Atlanta UnitedAtlanta31121094235746
7DC United32135145250244
8New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls31127123732543
9CF MontrealMontreal311110104441343
10Columbus Crew32118134144-341
11Inter MiamiInter Miami32115163450-1638
12Chicago Fire3397173652-1634
13Toronto3269173762-2527
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati3248203670-3420

Western Conference

TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1New England RevolutionNew England33227465402573
2Nashville SCNashville321216453312252
3Philadelphia UnionPhiladelphia321311845341150
4New York City FCNY City321381152341847
5Orlando City32121194747047
6Atlanta UnitedAtlanta31121094235746
7DC United32135145250244
8New York Red BullsNY Red Bulls31127123732543
9CF MontrealMontreal311110104441343
10Columbus Crew32118134144-341
11Inter MiamiInter Miami32115163450-1638
12Chicago Fire3397173652-1634
13Toronto3269173762-2527
14FC CincinnatiCincinnati3248203670-3420

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