Preview: RSL-Portland

Claret-and-Cobalt aim to clinch playoff berth Saturday v. Timbers

SANDY, Utah – Just a few days removed from Tuesday’s critical CONCACAF Champions League win at Tauro FC, Real Salt Lake (14-11-4, 46 points, West #4) will return to MLS action with a home match against the Portland Timbers (7-14-7, 28 points, West #8) at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 22.

The match – which will kickoff at the earlier than usual time of 6 p.m. MT – will be broadcast nationally on NBC Sports Network and can be heard on 99.1 FM and on Juan 1600 AM/La Gran D 102.3 FM.

Thanks to Chivas USA’s loss at Columbus on Wednesday, the Claret-and-Cobalt will clinch its fifth-consecutive playoff appearance with a win over Portland on Saturday. RSL is currently in fourth in the Western Conference, trailing the third-place L.A. Galaxy – which is tied with RSL with 46 points – by virtue of the goals scored tiebreaker.

It’s vitally important that Real Salt Lake uses its final five MLS games to leapfrog either L.A. or second-place Seattle – which is two points ahead of both RSL and L.A. and holds a game in hand on both sides – to nab a top-three seed in the West. Finishing fourth would put RSL in a one-off elimination game against the West’s fifth-seed, with the winner of that match advancing to the two-game Conference Semifinal against the West’s top-seed.

If RSL is to begin its climb out of fourth-place on Saturday, it will likely have to do so without leading-scorer Álvaro Saborío. The Costa Rican forward injured his right shoulder directly before scoring the game-winning penalty kick in stoppage time of Tuesday’s 1-0 win at Tauro and – while he hasn’t been officially ruled out – could miss Saturday’s game.

Saborío led the Claret-and-Cobalt in both of their previous matches against the Timbers this year, scoring the opening goal in RSL’s come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Portland on March 31 and notching a hat trick in the Utah side’s 3-0 win over the Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 7. A win on Saturday would give RSL a three-game season sweep of the Timbers – it would be RSL’s first three-game sweep of an opponent in club history.

Portland enters Saturday’s match playing some decent soccer. The team is 2-1-2  in its last five matches and 0-1-2 in its last three, most recently seeing a two-goal lead evaporate late to tie 2-2 at league-leading San Jose on Wednesday night.

Real Salt Lake will follow up Saturday’s match against Portland with a contest at Chivas USA on Saturday, Sept. 29. RSL is 1-1-0 against Chivas this year, falling to the Goats 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 18 and blasting the Southern California side 3-0 at the Home Depot Center on June 16.

How to Follow Real Salt Lake v. Portland Timbers

  • Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah
  • TV: NBC Sports Network
  • English Radio: 99.1 FM (Pregame coverage begins at 5:30 with James Rust and Brian Kamler)
  • Spanish Radio: La Gran D 102.3 FM & Juan 1600 AM with Nelson Moran & Fernando Hortal
  • Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter Feed will provide match updates

Game Guide for Saturday’s RSL-Portland Timbers Match Now Available Online

Following is the link to the Adobe PDF version of the Game Guide (media notes) in advance of Saturday’s contest between Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers. If you have any problems obtaining the document, would prefer to receive it as an attachment, or are seeking more information on the match, please contact Media Services Manager Sam Stejskal in the RSL Communications Department via email at sstejskal@realsaltlake.com.

Click here to download the PDF version of the RSL-Portland MLS Game Guide

RSL History v. Portland

Real Salt Lake enters Saturday’s match with a 2-1-1 all-time record against Portland, including a 1-0-1 record in against the Timbers in matches played at Rio Tinto Stadium.

RSL has faced Portland twice this year, winning both matches. The first game was a barnburner, with RSL getting late goals from midfielders Jonny Steele and Kyle Beckerman to cancel out Portland attacker Darlington Nagbe’s second half brace to beat the Timbers 3-2 at JELD-WEN Field on March 31. The second game wasn’t as close, with the aforementioned Saborío bagging a second half hat trick to down the 10-man Timbers 3-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium on July 7.