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RSL Excited To Fly Under Radar In MLS Cup Pursuit

Real Salt Lake celebrate a goal during the second half against the Los Angeles Galaxy at Dignity Health Sports Park on April 28, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Katharine Lotze/Getty Images)

SANDY, Utah – Real Salt Lake are excited and optimistic about the opportunity to make a playoff run in 2019. They will host the sixth-seeded Portland Timbers this weekend in the first round of the 2019 Audi MLS Playoffs.

Portland has RSL’s number this season, so much so that RSL is yet to beat the Timbers this year.

Can RSL Limit Valeri?

The first loss came at the RioT on May 4 when RSL lost 2-1 despite beating the Timbers in the shot tally and out possessing them 54 to 46.

The second loss came on August 31 when RSL traveled to Providence Park, only to lose 1-0 after Diego Valeri found the back of the net from 25 yards out in the 16th minute.

In fact, Diego Valeri has scored impactful goals in both encounters this season.

Let’s get one thing straight, you will not be able to stop Valeri. Who has been listed as available by manager Giovanni Savarese despite missing the final two regular-season games for the Timbers with a calf injury. RSL will need to limit the established midfielder if they are any hope of beating the Timbers for the first time this season.

Valeri is at his best when he is in space, limiting his time on the ball and his ability to find space will be paramount if RSL hopes to beat the Timbers.

RSL Focused On RSL

Interim manager Freddy Juarez spoke about the Timbers during a press conference earlier in the week.

“We do not want to be too aggressive at the expense of being very exploited as they are a very good counter-attack team.”

While the playing group understands the threat(s) that Portland brings, they seem to be very focused on themselves.

“The second part of the season we are one of the best defensive teams and it shows, we have so much quality on the roster,” Damir Kreilach said, “We are in good form and of course we want to show that on Saturday.”

Game Time

Kick-off is scheduled for Saturday at 8:00 p.m.

The winner will advance to the conference semifinals where they will play the winner of FC Dallas and Seattle.