The Portland Timbers host Western Conference rivals Real Salt Lake in a must win game at Providence Park late on Friday night, and know that a win will move them back into a playoff position.
Last weeks double win against the San Jose Earthquakes moved them into fifth place, but the Vancouver Whitecaps moved back into the last remaining playoff spot with a surprise victory in Seattle.
This is now the Timbers biggest game of the season, as a loss at home to Salt Lake opens the door for the Whitecaps to seal the final playoff berth with victory against the Earthquakes.
Portland needs its home support more than ever on Friday, and they are in good form heading into this crucial clash against one of the league’s better sides.Embed from Getty Images
The Timbers have lost just one of their last seven, and have recorded wins in three of their last four in Major League Soccer, while Salt Lake have lost two of their last three.
RSL will be going for victory as they look to hold on to third place in the Western Conference, to avoid having to play in the wildcard game.
Portland beat Real Salt Lake away from home in their last meeting back in June, and will be desperate for a repeat performance in this huge game on Friday night, as failure to win will all but end their playoff hopes.
Key player: Diego Valeri: The playmaker continues to impress and his brace last time out further emphasised his importance to the Timbers. They need him to come up big once again.
Key stat: Portland have scored at least two goals in their last eight MLS games. Expect more in this one.
Portland’s last five: D/W/L/W/W
Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/L/L/W
Prediction: Portland Timbers 2-1 Real Salt Lake – The Timbers to keep dreams alive with a hard fought win against RSL.