Preview: RSL at Portland Timbers

Claret-and-Cobalt head to Portland for huge date with the Timbers

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake (15-10-7, 52 points, West #2) will take part in yet another crucial MLS clash this weekend, taking on West leaders Portland Timbers (13-5-14, 53 points, West #1) at 8:30 p.m. MT on Saturday at JELD-WEN Field.

Saturday’s match will be broadcast live on CW30, 99.1 FM and 102.3 La Gran D/1600 AM. CW30 will air the 30-minute Ford Postgame Show immediately after the match; 99.1 FM will air an hour-long pregame show before the game and will broadcast an hour-long postgame show following the contest.

Real Salt Lake can clinch its sixth-straight MLS Cup Playoff berth on Saturday with a win over the Timbers. Regardless of Saturday’s result at Portland, RSL would also clinch a spot in the postseason with a Colorado Rapids loss/draw against Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Saturday afternoon OR with a San Jose Earthquakes loss/draw at the LA Galaxy on Sunday. RSL’s current streak of five-straight playoff appearances is the longest active run in the league; a sixth-straight postseason appearance would tie the Claret-and-Cobalt for the second-longest such streak in MLS history.

The Claret-and-Cobalt would effectively – if not officially – lock up a postseason spot with a draw at Portland. One point from Saturday’s game would give RSL a total of 53 on the year, meaning sixth-place San Jose could – at the most – finish the season tied with RSL on points. In that scenario, the Quakes and RSL would end the season tied on wins and would move to the second tiebreaker – goals scored – to determine who would qualify for the playoffs. RSL currently has 55 goals scored while San Jose only has 33.

Saturday’s contest has huge implications in both the Western Conference and Supporters’ Shield races. The top of the West is an absolute logjam, with Portland leading on 53 points, RSL one point behind on 52, LA Galaxy and Seattle Sounders FC on 51 points and fifth-place Colorado Rapids on 48 points. The Claret-and-Cobalt likely need a win on Saturday to have hope of winning either the West or Supporters’ Shield, as both RSL and Portland finish the season against last-place Chivas USA, with RSL hosting the Goats on Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium and Portland taking on the Southern California side at StubHub Center next Saturday, Oct. 26.

If RSL is to win Saturday’s game, it will have to do so without the services of MF Javier Morales, who is suspended for the match due to yellow card accumulation. A candidate for MLS Best XI with eight goals and 10 assists in league action, Morales was instrumental for RSL in the team’s first two league games against Portland this year, scoring two goals and adding an assist against the Timbers.

Three Real Salt Lake players will be returning to the fold on Saturday, with Captain Kyle Beckerman (U.S.), GK Nick Rimando (U.S.) and FW Alvaro Saborio (Costa Rica) all returning from international duty. Beckerman played 90 minutes for the U.S. in its 3-2 win at Panama on Tuesday while Saborio came off the bench early in the second half and scored a goal in Costa Rica’s 2-1 win over Mexico.

Saturday’s contest will be the fourth meeting across all competitions between RSL and Portland this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 2-0-1 in its first three matches against the Timbers, beating the Timbers 2-1 in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal on Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium, getting a 93rd minute equalizer from MF Cole Grossman to draw 3-3 at Portland on Aug. 21 and smashing the Timbers 4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 30.

Real Salt Lake will close the 2013 MLS regular season on Wednesday, when the team will host Chivas USA at 7:00 p.m. MT at Rio Tinto Stadium. A limited amount of tickets are still available to Wednesday’s home finale and can be purchased at the Rio Tinto Stadium box office, online at www.RealSaltLake.com/Tickets or over the phone at 801-727-2700.

How to Follow Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers

  • Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. MT at JELD-WEN Field in Portland
  • TV: CW30
  • English Radio: 99.1 FM (Pregame begins at 7:30 p.m. MT)
  • Spanish Radio: La Gran D 102.3 FM & Juan 1600 AM
  • Online: The @RealSaltLake Twitter Feed will provide live match updates

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

Click here to download the PDF version of the MLS Game Guide for Saturday’s RSL-POR matchup

RSL History v. Portland Timbers

Real Salt Lake is 4-1-2 all-time in regular season play against Portland and 5-1-2 in all competitions against the Timbers. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 1-1-1 in three games at Portland, losing 1-0 at JELD-WEN Field on April 30, 2011, beating the Timbers in Portland 3-2 on March 31, 2012 and drawing 3-3 in the Pacific Northwest on Aug. 21 of this year.

Saturday’s contest will be the fourth meeting across all competitions between RSL and Portland this year. The Claret-and-Cobalt is 2-0-1 in its first three matches against the Timbers, beating the Timbers 2-1 in a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal on Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium, getting a 93rd minute equalizer from MF Cole Grossman to draw 3-3 at Portland on Aug. 21 and smashing the Timbers 4-2 at Rio Tinto Stadium on Aug. 30.