Real Salt Lake Unbothered By Recent Portland Results, Inspired By Ambition
SALT LAKE CITY – If Real Salt Lake hopes to have any success against Portland this upcoming Saturday, they must stop the Timbers from executing swift, explosive counter-attacking movements.
What is the old saying? It is hard to beat a team twice? Well, Portland are trying to beat Real Salt Lake for the fourth time this year.
This season, Real Salt Lake is yet to beat Portland with the Timbers currently owning a three to zero advantage. Two of the three fixtures so far have been played in Portland, with this weekend marking the third occasion that Real Salt Lake will travel to the state of Oregon.
Interestingly, in two of the three most recent matches, Real Salt Lake has played in the 3-5-2 formation under interim manager Pablo Mastroeni and over the two-game stretch has conceded nine goals while only scoring twice.
However, the first time these two teams met in 2021 came on August 7th when Freddy Juarez was still at the helm. During this match, Real Salt Lake deployed in a 4-2-3-1 formation, the same shape they will play this upcoming weekend. On the 7th of August, the fixture concluded 3-2, in easily the hottest contested fixture between Real Salt Lake and Portland of the 2021 calendar year.
Despite Real Salt Lake ultimately losing the game, they outshot Portland 23 to 10, dominated 65 percent possession, won the corner tally 14 to 1, and played 220 more passes than Portland.
The difference was simply Portland’s incredible ability to make the most of the chances they created. Toni Datković was called for a handball in the box which resulted in a Portland penalty kick and subsequently the opening goal of the game, however, the penalty decision was questionable.
Real Salt Lake, under the 4-2-3-1 formation, has outplayed Portland at Providence Park this season already.
Portland is without two of their star attacking threats as well, while Real Salt Lake may be without Everton Luiz due to yellow card accumulation, they do return their captain and key contributor Albert Rusnák.
Dairon Asprilla is responsible for 10 goals and 3 assists through 34 appearances in 2021 while Sebastián Blanco has contributed 7 goals and 7 assists. Asprilla and Blanco are only behind teammate Felipe Mora who has starred with 11 goals and 5 assists this season.
Nevertheless, the losses of Asprilla and Blanco may prove pivotal in the outcome of this game.
With Portland bruised, can Real Salt Lake capitalize and book a place in the MLS Cup? Or will the hosts respond with an inspired performance without key contributors?
Regardless of how this fixture ends, fans of both teams are expected to experience a rollercoaster of emotions throughout.
Point being, Portland may hold the edge on Real Salt Lake so far this season, but given how the previous three games have gone for Real Salt Lake do not be surprised if yet another upset brews in Portland.
“I think this game is going to be different than anybody has seen the past three times that we have played them,” Justin Meram said following the Wednesday training session.
Next Match Info
Real Salt Lake will travel to Portland for the Western Conference Final this upcoming Saturday, December 4th, with kickoff scheduled for 4:30 p.m.