REAL SALT LAKE

Real Salt Lake Desperate For Promising Performance Against Portland Timbers

Apr 22, 2022, 4:20 PM
Bobby Wood - RSL vs. Portland - Preseason...
(Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)
(Photo courtesy of Real Salt Lake)

SALT LAKE CITY – Real Salt Lake travels to Providence Park with the hope of ending a horrific week with a positive result.

The recent history against Portland at Providence Park however suggests that the outcome could result in a third consecutive loss. Real Salt Lake last played an MLS fixture at Yankee Stadium when they tied their worst loss in franchise history following the 6-0 drumming at the hands of NYCFC. The club then followed the poor road performance with an embarrassing 1-0 defeat to USL League 1 side Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC in the third round of the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday evening.

RSL Struggles Of Late

Currently, Real Salt Lake is fighting the psychological demons of the previous two losses. Without question, the club is enduring its worst stretch of the 2022 season, and it does not get any easier.

The road trip to Portland will be a chance for Real Salt Lake to redeem itself against a club that has controlled the previous four encounters between the two clubs. In the 2021 season alone, Portland beat Real Salt Lake four times, concluding a dominant display against Real Salt Lake with a comfortable 2-0 victory in the Western Conference Final on December 4, 2021. The last victory for Real Salt Lake against Portland came at home on October 15, 2020, when they won 2-1.

The last Real Salt Lake victory at Providence Park against the Timbers dates back to July 19, 2017, when Real Salt Lake pummeled the hosts 4-1 in emphatic style. That game is best remembered for the “Becker-bomb” that occurred in the 10th minute following a magical strike from Kyle Beckerman who found the top left corner after striking the ball from 30 yards.

Regardless of the recent history and the poor form of Real Salt Lake entering the fixture, the club is welcoming back a number of key figures to the starting XI.

Midweek against the Hailstorm, defender Justen Glad, goalkeeper David Ochoa, and midfielder Nick Besler played significant minutes in their return to the pitch. Captain Damir Kreilach is now fully healthy following a calf strain that sidelined him for many weeks, Aaron Herrera is match fit following numerous injuries to start the 2022 season, and Bobby Wood is fit following illness and muscle injuries that forced him to miss a number of weeks.

The leadership of the club is now being tested. How will they respond following two humiliating losses within a four-day span? Ever since Mastroeni has taken control of the managerial position at Real Salt Lake, he, along with his players, has spoken about the importance of having a sound mentality. The fanbase bought into the psychological element that Mastroeni brings to the table, but a growing number of fans are starting to doubt the mental health of the Real Salt Lake playing group, and understandably so.

Against NYCFC and Northern Colorado, Real Salt Lake played like a team that lacked chemistry, determination, and vigor. The intensity has been poor as of late, the desire to perform at the highest of levels has been taken away. Or at least, so it seems.

An Opportunity Awaits

The silver lining is that Real Salt Lake has a chance to change the negative narratives of late. A solid performance against Portland on the road could reignite the fire and help catapult Real Salt Lake towards the top of the Western Conference. Furthermore, despite the recent losses, Real Salt Lake still finds itself in the sixth position in the West.

One burning question remains unknown, what is the psychological damage following the two most recent losses? Is the leadership and guidance at the club strong enough to will the club out of the depths of despair?

Portland enters the fixture having most recently drawn 0-0 with Houston. A week prior they beat Vancouver 3-2 at BC Place. The Timbers sit in the ninth position in the West and have managed just 10 points from 8 games played so far in 2022.

Match Info

Real Salt Lake will travel to Providence Park for a road fixture against the Portland Timbers. Kickoff is slated for Saturday, April 23, at 8 p.m.

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

 

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