After seven seasons in Utah, Nat Borchers’ time with Real Salt Lake came to an end on Monday with the announcement that he had been traded to the Portland Timbers in exchange for Allocation Money.
Just hours after the announcement, he appeared on the Bill and OC Show on ESPN 700 in Salt Lake City and he spoke very highly of his time with the Claret-and-Cobalt.
“I learned a lot of lessons. I definitely learned that when it comes to success on the field, there are a lot of things that have to happen off the field for the team to be successful,” Borchers said. “For our group, off the field meant hanging out together. It meant being a part of each other’s families. It meant participating in each other’s lives and getting to know other guys on the team outside of the soccer field. That made things really special for us and made our group very special. That translated into so much of our success – just how well we knew each other, how much we loved playing for each other and fighting for each other.”
Borchers expressed a strong connection with the RSL fan base, one that was established early in his time with the club and only strengthened with each season.
“We’ve got nothing but gratitude toward the soccer community in Utah. Since day one they brought us in and made us feel at home out here. People are just so engaging and friendly and positive and excited about RSL,” he said. “I’m just really proud that we were able to make that product a little bit better for the last seven years. It gives the community a lot to talk about. We’re incredibly grateful to the fans for rooting for us when we’re losing and cheering for us when we’re winning. That’s just the sign of a fan base that’s here to stay and will be here forever. I’m really looking forward to coming back here and watching games with my family and being part of this RSL family that’s so special.”
At some point, Borchers will return to Rio Tinto Stadium wearing the green of the Portland Timbers. When that day comes and he faces off with his longtime teammates, he admitted that the feeling would be odd.
“I don’t look forward to that at all because I know it’s going to be a tough matchup and there’s going to be a lot of emotion involved,” Borchers said.
To hear the entire interview, click the link below.
— Real Salt Lake (@RealSaltLake) December 9, 2014
Real Salt Lake has multiple ways to clinch a playoff berth this week, with its first opportunity to do so tonight, when the Portland Timbers host San Jose Earthquakes at 8:30 p.m. MT. If Portland records a loss or tie against San Jose, the Claret-and-Cobalt will have clinched a seventh-straight spot in the MLS Cup Playoffs – the longest active streak in MLS.
So all RSL fans should be glued to their screens tonight, hoping for a Timbers loss - which shouldn't be too hard of course.
RSL Playoff Scenarios:
Real Salt Lake will clinch a berth in the MLS Cup Playoffs IF
- Real Salt Lake win vs San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday
- Real Salt Lake tie vs San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday AND
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC tie or lose vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday OR
- Portland Timbers tie or lose vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday
- Vancouver Whitecaps FC lose vs. Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday OR
- Portland Timbers lose/tie vs. San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday
Real Salt Lake returns home to complete one of its toughest stretches of the 2014 season, playing host to Western Conference rival Portland Timbers on Saturday at Rio Tinto Stadium at 8:00 p.m.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s clash:
Will RSL continue its dominance over Portland?
Real Salt Lake has a pretty dominate history against the Portland Timbers, and is currently riding an 11-game unbeaten run against the Cascadia side. Portland’s only win came over three years ago, with the Timbers defeating RSL in April 2011 when the sides first met in MLS. RSL kept the undefeated streak going the last time to two sides met on April 19 at Rio Tinto Stadium, with RSL earning a 1-0 win thanks to a great Ned Grabavoy goal. The Claret-and-Cobalt posts an 8-1-3 mark across all competitions against the Pacific Northwest side and a 5-1-3 all-time regular season record against Portland.
Will Plata make his return on Saturday?
Lethal striker Joao Plata has missed the Claret-and-Cobalt’s last two matches due to a hamstring injury picked up against FC Dallas on May 24. The speedy Ecuadorian has six goals in nine appearances this year, tying him for the team lead with forward Alvaro Saborio. RSL has severely missed the absence of both Plata and Saborio, with no other forwards finding the back of net this season. RSL midfielder Luis Gil snapped the Claret-and-Cobalt’s scoreless streak at 275 minutes on Wednesday, when he scored in the 56th minute against Columbus.
Will RSL’s diverse attack against Portland endure?
Historically, RSL has had a very diverse attack against Portland with ten different players scoring and eight different players assisting on a total of 15 goals in the Utah side’s last seven matches against the Timbers (2013-14). RSL midfielder Javier Morales leads the way for RSL with three goals; followed by Saborio, Plata and Robbie Findley with two goals each; forward Devon Sandoval, midfielders Luis Gil, Cole Grossman and Ned Grabavoy, and defenders Chris Schuler and Nat Borchers all have one tally against the Cascadia club in that time frame. Captain Kyle Beckerman, Morales and Plata lead the way for RSL in assists, with three helpers each; Grabavoy, Gil, Findley, Saborio and midfielder Sebastian Velasquez all have one assist against Portland since the start of 2013.
Will the Claret-and-Cobalt return to the diamond midfield and normal starting lineup?
On Wednesday night in Columbus, Head Coach Jeff Cassar deviated from RSL’s standard diamond midfield for the first time this year, opting for a 4-2-3-1 formation instead. With RSL playing three games in eight days, the road test against the Crew was an opportunity to rest some starters ahead of its clash with Portland. Wednesday’s lineup featured an almost entirely new back line (Rich Balchan, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Schuler, Abdoulie Mansally), and marked the first career start for midfielder John Stertzer. With veteran defenders Chris Wingert, Tony Beltran and Nat Borchers rested, Real Salt Lake should look a bit more familiar on Saturday.
Last MLS match before World Cup break
Saturday’s match will be Real Salt Lake’s final MLS regular season match until June 28 when the Claret-and-Cobalt travel to California to take on Chivas USA at StubHub Center. That isn’t to say RSL won’t be busy in June though, since it will play its first Open Cup match against NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks on June 14 in Georgia. But with the upcoming regular season break, RSL will want to end on a high note at home. Will RSL leave it all on the line on Saturday?
Real Salt Lake will renew its rivalry with the Portland Timbers on Saturday night, welcoming Will Johnson, Caleb Porter and co. into Rio Tinto Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff.
Here are a few storylines to watch ahead of Saturday’s match:
RSL looks to stay unbeaten in 2014
Last weekend’s results left RSL as the lone remaining unbeaten in MLS. Currently sitting at 2-0-4, the Claret-and-Cobalt will be looking to pick up the full three points on Saturday – the first of four home games in RSL’s next six matches – after drawing its last two matches.
Can RSL stay hot against Portland?
A lot has been said about RSL’s dominant history against Portland, and rightfully so. RSL enters Saturday’s match on a 10-game unbeaten run against the Timbers, not having lost to the Cascadia side since the first-ever meeting between the sides, way back in April 2011. The Claret-and-Cobalt was particularly strong against the Timbers in 2013, notching a 4-0-2 record against Portland in all competitions, including a perfect 3-0-0 mark at Rio Tinto Stadium. The Claret-and-Cobalt didn’t lack for goals against the Timbers in 2013, with nine different players scoring a total of 14 goals against the Oregon club in the six meetings across all competitions between the clubs.
Morales and Saborio look to continue success against Timbers
No Real Salt Lake players have as successful a history against Portland as Javier Morales and Alvaro Saborio. The dynamic attacking duo has killed the Timbers, with Saborio registering seven goals and one assist in seven career games against Portland and Morales notching four goals and five assists in 10 career matches against the Cascadia club.
Meetings between Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers have never lacked for excitement, with the two teams producing open-ended, high-scoring matches ever since the Timbers joined MLS in 2011. The meetings went up a notch last year, with then-rookie Portland Head Coach Caleb Porter bringing an RSL-like possession style to the Timbers.
Real Salt Lake has had great success against the Cascadia side, posting a 7-1-3 all-time record against the Timbers across all competitions, with RSL’s sole loss coming in the teams’ first-ever encounter in April 2011. RSL and Portland had a couple of high-stakes matchups last year, meeting in the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal on Aug. 7, with the Claret-and-Cobalt pulling off a 2-1 victory to advance to the USOC Final. RSL and the Timbers then went on to meet in the 2013 Western Conference Final series, with RSL defeating Portland 4-2 in the first leg and earning a 1-0 win in the second leg on the road to advance to MLS Cup 2013.
The team truly is the star when it comes to Real Salt Lake’s success against Portland, as nine different RSL players scored against the Timbers in 2013 alone, and 10 current Claret-and-Cobalt players have scored against Portland in their career. Not surprisingly, RSL’s most prolific scorer against Portland is forward Alvaro Saborio, who has seven goals and one assist in seven games against the Oregon side. RSL maestro Javier Morales has also been excellent against Portland, posting four goals and five assists in 10 meetings against the Timbers. And it’s not just all about the goals – seven different RSL players had assists against Portland in 2013, and eight current RSL players have assists against Portland all-time.
Let’s hope RSL can continue its unbeaten streak on Saturday and get even more Claret-and-Cobalt players on the scoreboard.
Here’s a full breakdown of current RSL players with goals and/or assists against the Timbers:
Kyle Beckerman: 1 goal, 4 assists – 9 games
Nat Borchers: 1 goal – 11 games
Robbie Findley: 2 goals, 1 assist – 6 games
Luis Gil: 1 goal, 2 assists – 9 games
Ned Grabavoy: 1 goal – 10 games
Cole Grossman: 1 goal – 1 game
Javier Morales: 4 goals, 5 assists – 10 games
Joao Plata: 1 goal, 3 assists with RSL, 1 assist with Toronto FC – 6 games
Alvaro Saborio: 7 goals, 1 assist – 7 games
Devon Sandoval: 1 goal – 2 games
Chris Schuler: 1 goal – 4 games
Chris Wingert: 1 assist – 10 games
Real Salt Lake owned the Portland Timbers last year, posting a dominant 4-0-2 record in six matches across all competitions against the Cascadia club. RSL and the Timbers will face off for the first time in 2014 on Saturday, when Will Johnson, Caleb Porter and co. will come to Rio Tinto Stadium for a 7:30 p.m. MT kickoff.
The best of the six RSL-Portland games in 2013 came in the Western Conference Final series, which Real Salt Lake won 5-2 on aggregate on the back of a 4-2 win at home on Nov. 10 and a 1-0 win at Portland on Nov. 24. Highlights of those triumphant victories are below. Check them out before Saturday’s big tilt at The RioT.
First Leg: RSL 4-2 Portland
Second Leg: RSL 1-0 (5-2) Portland
Real Salt Lake advanced to MLS Cup 2013 on Sunday night, defeating Portland Timbers 1-0 (5-2 on aggregate).
Here are some interesting numbers from the match:
With Real Salt Lake’s win on Sunday night, the Claret-and-Cobalt has advanced to MLS Cup twice in its nine-season history. Real Salt Lake will face Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park in MLS Cup 2013 on Dec. 7. The last time RSL advanced to MLS Cup was in 2009 where the Claret-and-Cobalt defeated LA Galaxy 5-4 on penalty kicks at Qwest Field in Seattle.
Real Salt Lake handed Portland Timbers four losses in six games across all competitions this calendar year. In the 35 games against everyone else, Portland only suffered four losses.
Robbie Findley scored his sixth-career MLS Cup Playoff goal in Sunday’s match against Portland. The RSL FW has scored two goals in the postseason both against portland– one scored in the 41st minute in the Western Conference Championship first leg 4-2 win and the lone goal in RSL’s second leg 1-0 win over Portland on Sunday. With six playoff goals, Robbie Findley is Real Salt Lake’s all-time leading goal scorer in the postseason.
Real Salt Lake won the Western Conference Championship series with a total 5-2 aggregate score. In the two-legged series, RSL combine for five goals while Portland was kept to two. The series saw goals from RSL MF Sebastian Velasquez, MF Javier Morales, DF Chris Schuler and FW Robbie Findley.
RSL had a very diverse attack against Portland this year, with nine different players scoring and seven different players assisting in the Utah side’s six matches against the Timbers in 2013. RSL MF Javier Morales leads the way for RSL with three goals, followed by FW Alvaro Saborio and FW Robbie Findley with two goals each, while FW Devon Sandoval, MF Luis Gil, DF Chris Schuler, DF Nat Borchers and MF Cole Grossman all have one tally against the Cascadia club. Captain Kyle Beckerman, Javier Morales and Joao Plata lead the way for RSL with three assists against the Timbers each; Grabavoy, Gil, Findley and Saborio all have one assist against Portland.
With Sunday’s full shifts, Real Salt Lake Captain Kyle Beckerman and GK Nick Rimando have played all 1,710 minutes in RSL’s 18-game playoff history.
Great video from ESPN on the RSL postgame celebration from Sunday's Western Conference Championship win over Portland. Check it out above for the full trophy presentation, along with interviews with Head Coach Jason Kreis, Captain Kyle Beckerman and forward Robbie Findley.