Major League Soccer: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers
Rio Tinto Stadium – Saturday, September 16 – 21:30 ET (02:30 BST)
Match Odds: Real Salt Lake 19/20 – Draw 13/5 – Portland 5/2
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Preview
Real Salt Lake host Portland Timbers on Saturday night in what is a big game at a crucial stage of the season for both clubs. RSL come into the weekend looking to keep their hopes of a top-six finish alive. While Portland will be hoping to stay joint-top of the West with Vancouver beyond the weekend.
The hosts come into the game off the back of last weekend’s 3-2 loss at Vancouver. The result moved the Whitecaps ahead of Portland at the top of the West and ended RSL’s two-game win streak.
The good news for Real Salt Lake and Mike Petke is that they are returning home this weekend. They have one two-straight game in front of their own fans, beating San Jose 4-0 and Colorado 4-1. If they can get a third-straight home win on Saturday, there’s a good chance they’ll move into the top six.
However, Portland arrive in good form after beating New York City FC 1-0 at Yankee Stadium last weekend. That result stretcher their unbeaten run to four, with the Timbers picking up 10 points from 12 in that time.
Caleb Porter’s side endured a tough summer but they’ve bounced back over the past couple of months and are now looking poised for a strong playoff run. They will be hoping to secure a top-two finish to earn a first-round bye.
Saturday’s game will be the 19th MLS clash between Portland and Real Salt Lake. The Timbers have only lost one of their last nine games against RSL. However, that defeat took place earlier this season when Real Salt Lake picked up a 4-1 win after Portland received two red cards in the second half.
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Team News
Real Salt Lake have four players ruled out through injury. Chad Barrett, Jordan Allen, Omar Holness and Ricardo Velazco are all sidelined. Demar Phillips and Marcelo Silva are doubts with hamstring problems. Chris Schuler and Sunny are one booking away from suspension and will need to be careful.
Portland Timbers will be without combative midfielder Diego Chara as he has picked up a suspension as a result of yellow card accumulation. Sebastian Blanco is one booking away from suspension.
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Key Points
Real Salt Lake’s last five: W/L/W/W/L
Portland Timbers’ last five: L/W/W/D/W
Key Stat: Real Salt Lake are unbeaten in five consecutive home games in MLS and have scored four goals in their last two at Rio Tinto.
Key Player: Diego Valeri – The Portland Timbers playmaker is enjoying a phenomenal campaign. He has scored in seven consecutive games and is a genuine MVP candidate. He will set an MLS record if he nets for an eighth-straight game on Saturday. But he will need to end an 11-game drought against RSL to do so.
— Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) September 9, 2017
Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers: Prediction
Real Salt Lake 2-2 Portland Timbers – Goals are to be expected on Saturday in what should be an open game. Real Salt Lake know they must avoid defeat to keep their playoff hopes alive at this pivotal stage of the season. For Portland, it’s about maintaining their strong form as the playoffs edge closer. They are still in the race for the lead at the top of the Western Conference too and so both will be out for all three points. However, that could lead to the two sides cancelling each other out. Last season’s clash at Rio Tinto ended 2-2 and we expect the same scoreline here.