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Real Salt Lake - Portland Timbers
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Real Salt Lake Eager To Continue Form As Pivotal Test Against Portland Awaits

Sam Johnson (2R) #50 of Real Salt Lake celebrates after scoring a goal in the 95th minute to tie the game 4-4 against the Portland Timbers at Providence Park on August 29, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Real Salt Lake travel to Providence Park in Portland, Oregon in form and eager to continue their climb up the Western Conference under Pablo Mastroeni.

Mastroeni Masterclass

Mastroeni has been in charge as the interim manager for five games where he has won three and lost two. However, he enters the fixture against Portland having led his team to back-to-back wins against San Jose and Seattle Sounders, respectively.

The new shape of the team has played a key role in allowing Real Salt Lake to pick up results. The 3-5-2 has created a more dynamic, efficient style of play that emphasizes the impact of some of the club’s best players, such as captain Albert Rusnák, Damir Kreilach, and Aaron Herrera.

Mastroeni has instilled life into the Real Salt Lake locker room. His leadership qualities have calmly guided the club to a new sense of belief, but all members of the club including Mastroeni are wary of the test that they will face this weekend against Portland.

Formidable Test Awaits

The Timbers are undefeated through their previous five games having won four of the last five fixtures. Furthermore, they have only conceded three goals through their previous five games and are playing with the utmost confidence. Remarkably, the Timbers have not been shut out in a game since June 26 when they lost 1-0 to Minnesota at home.

Fortunately, Real Salt Lake is getting healthier. Bobby Wood, Zack Farnsworth, and Marcelo Silva are the only players listed as unavailable tomorrow evening. Andrew Brody has been taken off the injury list, suggesting a possible return from a broken toe that he sustained in July.

For Real Salt Lake to have success against Portland they will need to control the game and be wary as the Timbers look to capitalize on the counter-attack. Real Salt Lake should have no issues when it comes to dictating the speed and flow of the game, Portland generally are not all that interested in winning the possession tally.

The Timbers want to break quickly when a change in possession occurs, and has showcased to be very elusive and dynamic in quickly transitioning the football from their defensive half into the back of the opponents net.

The quality on Portland’s roster speaks for itself, Dairon Asprilla, Sebastián Blanco, Diego Valeri, Felipe Mora, and brothers Yimmi and Diego Chará are some of the most prolific attacking players in all of the league.

Mora leads the team in goals with 10 on the year through 21 games played, averaging just under a goal a game. While, Marvin Loría leads the team in assists with 5.

Beware Of The Set Piece

Portland is a clinical team from set pieces, they are also formidable when it comes to getting the ball into wide spaces and crossing the ball into dangerous areas of the box. Last game against LAFC where they won 2-1, both of their goals came from crosses with the first being a corner kick and the second being a cross from the byline.

Real Salt Lake must ensure that their shape remains firm and that they defend in a compact nature.

The upcoming fixture against Portland is pivotal when it comes to movement in the Western Conference. Currently, Real Salt Lake is in sixth place while Portland sits just one point ahead of them in fifth. A Real Salt Lake win could begin to stretch the gap between them and the playoff race, a loss and they will find themselves continuing to fight for playoff acceptance.

Match Info

Real Salt Lake and Portland Timbers will kickoff at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 25th from Providence Park.

The match will be available to stream via the KSL Sports & KSL 5 TV apps or on KSL Sports dot com.