Competition: Major League Soccer – Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium – Wednesday, October 14 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)
Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 6/5 – Draw 12/5 – Portland Timbers 11/5
The battle to make the top six in the West seems to intensify every week and Real Salt Lake have been putting together a solid run of form as we approach the final weekend, which is just 10 days away.
The Claret and Cobalt have had a poor season by their lofty standards but they have won three of their last four and are now just three points off San Jose in sixth. A loss to Portland here would all but end their playoff hopes though and so this is a pivotal clash.
Real Salt Lake’s MLS record: P31 – W11 – D8 – L12Embed from Getty Images
Portland are looking set to narrowly miss out on postseason soccer for the second successive season as they have fallen out of the top six on goal difference with just three games to play.
They have only won one of their last six and need to try and pick back up quickly with a road win here. That won’t be an easy task but knowing they could move level with Cascadia rivals Seattle in fifth should serve as enough motivation.
They have already won at Rio Tinto Stadium this season and that 1-0 victory in August could help confidence in the Portland camp.
Portland Timbers’ MLS record: P31 – W12 – D8 – L11
Real Salt Lake have only won one of the last five meetings between these two and so this looks set to be a real thriller between two sides fighting for their playoff lives.
Real Salt Lake will be without defensive duo Chris Schuler and Demar Phillips. Schuler is still out with a foot injury, while Phillips will serve a one-match ban as a result of yellow card accumulation. Nick Rimando and Kyle Beckerman have left the USA camp to return for this game. Luis Gil and Boyd Okwuonu are away with the US U-23 squad and are unlikely to be back in time.
Portland will still be without Ben Zemanski, while Michael Seaton is away on international duty with Jamaica. Will Johnson is a doubt with a leg injury and is unlikely to play.
Real Salt Lake’s last five: L/W/W/L/W
Portland Timbers’ last five: L/D/L/W/L
Key Stat: Real Salt Lake have only lost two of their last 26 home games in MLS. Although their last home defeat came at the hands of Portland in August.
Key Player: Joao Plata – The exciting attacker scored his first goal since early August in the 2-1 win at Colorado last time out. Expect him to be a real threat throughout.Embed from Getty Images
Real Salt Lake 2-1 Portland Timbers – This should be a tight and tense affair as neither side can afford to lose. But Real Salt Lake’s home record has been good this season and recent form suggests they will just edge it in front of their own fans.