Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers | MLS Match Preview

REAL SALT LAKE vs PORTLAND TIMBERS
RIO TINTO STADIUM, Sandy, Utah
April 19, 2014 (WEEK 7, MLS Game #61)
7:30 p.m. MT (KUCW-30; KPTV FOX-12/Estrella)

Renewing their acquaintances following a pitched Western Conference Championship a year ago, Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers meet for the first time this season on Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real are the last undefeated team remaining in MLS this season, coming off a 2-2 draw at Philadelphia Union last weekend. The Timbers are still looking for their first win of the campaign, after a 1-1 home draw with Chivas USA last Saturday.

REFEREE: Drew Fischer. AR1 (bench): Daniel Belleau; AR2 (opposite): Jeff Hosking; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 26 game; FC/gm: 26.0; Y/gm: 2.9; R: 2; pens: 6

DISABLED LIST: none
SUSPENDED: none
WARNINGS:
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: none
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Norbetto Paparetto, Diego Chara
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: RSL: Jordan Allen; Benji Lopez (U.S. U-20)

HEAD-TO-HEAD
ALL-TIME (8 meetings): Real 4 wins, 16 goals … Timbers 1 win, 10 goals … Ties 3
AT SALT LAKE (4 meetings): Real 3 wins, 10 goals … Timbers 0 wins, 4 goals … Ties 1
RETURN MATCHES: 6/7: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, 8 p.m. MT; 10/17: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 7 p.m. PT

LAST YEAR (MLS):
8/21: POR 3, RSL 3 (Wallace 24; Valeri 57; Alhassan 86 – Borchers 38; Morales 43; Grossman 93+)
8/30: RSL 4, POR 2 (Gil 9; Plata 15; Morales 55; Saborio 67 – Nagbe 31; Zizzo 78)
10/19: POR 0, RSL 0

  • The teams met in a thrilling Western Conference Championship last season, Real winning 4-2 in Sandy in the first leg, then taking a 1-0 win at Portland to advance to MLS Cup 2013 5-2 on aggregate.
  • The visiting team has won just once all-time in the series in league play – a 3-2 RSL win in Portland in 2012. Real are 3-0-1 all-time at Rio Tinto Stadium vs. the Timbers.
  • Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. RSL: P3 W0 L1 D2 … Jeff Cassar vs. POR: first game

REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake remained undefeated to open the 2014 season, playing to a second consecutive draw with a 2-2 result vs. Philadelphia Union on Saturday afternoon at PPL Park. RSL are in a tie second place in the Western Conference with 10 points from six matches.

LAST MATCH

  • RSL took the lead after just six minutes, after Union center back Austin Berry took down Olmes Garcia at the edge of the penalty area and referee Alan Kelly pointed to the spot. Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath stopped Alvaro Saborio's penalty kick – but Luke Mulholland beat everyone to the rebound and slotted home inside the left post.
  • Union pulled level 10 minutes after the second-half restart when Andrew Wenger opened his Union scoring account, racing on to a perfect, chipped long ball over the top from Vincent Nogueira, then controlling it with his chest before beating RSL goalkeeper Jeff Attinella.
  • But RSL nosed back in front in the 85th minute. After the Union lines weren't completely cleared from a corner, hard work by Sebastian Velasquez got the ball to Javier Morales, and his brilliant cut-back found Kyle Beckerman to pound a shot home from the heart of the area.
  • Yet Union had one final answer on the stroke of full-time, when Maurice Edu snapped home a header from a Cristian Maidana corner kick to provide the equalizing goal.
  • RSL head coach Jeff Cassar made three changes to the team that played to a scoreless draw with Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Tony Beltran and Chris Wingert came back into the back four for Rich Balchan and Abdoulie Mansally, and Luke Mulholland started in midfield in place of Luis Gil.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Jeff Attinella - Tony Beltran, Chris Schuler, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Luke Mulholland (Sebastian Velasquez 73), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales - Olmes Garcia (Devon Sandoval 68), Alvaro Saborio.

TEAM NEWS

  • Real Salt Lake are the only undefeated team still standing in Major League Soccer following the 2-2 draw at Philadelphia. It’s also the longest RSL has started a season without a loss; they won their opening four games in 2011 before suffering a defeat.
  • “At the end of the day I am happy with a road point, I think there was three points to get, but I am happy with one, happy to stay undefeated and excited about coming home. ... I think we are going to get better and that is what really is exciting,” said RSL head coach Jeff Cassar. “We are not playing our best soccer right now, but were still getting results and that is up to me to get the guys going.”
  • Union’s opening goal in the second half ended RSL’s shutout streak at 291 minutes, the longest this season in Major League Soccer. The LA Galaxy have a 251-minute streak alive after their 1-0 home win vs. Vancouver.
  • “We just wanted to come out with an aggressive mentality this game. We were not talking about streaks or goalless streaks or anything like that, just talking about being aggressive and to impose our will on them and I thought we did that for the most part but we got caught, we got caught on a counter attack and we got caught on a set play,” said Cassar.
  • Real have held the lead in three of their four drawn matches this season (one was a scoreless draw), and for the second time this season, conceded the equalizing goal in the 90th minute or later.
  • “Kind of similar to the feeling of San Jose,” Kyle Beckerman said. “You'd take a draw before the game, but then when we're [ahead] that late in the game, we'd like to take all three. ... I think it was really important for us to get some points, pick up a win, pick up ties on the road. That's what we can build on.”
  • Said Ned Grabavoy: “Obviously it is tough to get a tie on the road usually in this league so you’re feeling good about yourself.  We have had this two times in the first six games where we had leads really late in the game and we cannot seem to pick up all three points.”
  • Alvaro Saborio failed to convert a penalty kick for just the second time in 15 attempts in league games. The first came last April 6, when he was saved by Colorado goalkeeper Clint Irwin.
  • Luke Mulholland scored his second goal of the season, converting the rebound from Saborio penalty kick miss. Mulholland was making his second MLS start, his first since March 15.
  • “We all have confidence in (Alvaro Saborio) scoring those. Penalties do not always get scored, it is important to follow it through, follow it up, and just right place, right time,” Mulholland said. “All I did was just try to re-direct it back on goal fortunately enough to find the corner.”
  • Javier Morales recorded his second assist of the season, his second in the last three matches.

PORTLAND TIMBERS
The Portland Timbers saw their season-opening winless streak extended with a second consecutive draw, this time a 1-1 tie with Chivas USA on Saturday evening at Providence Park. The Timbers are in eighth place in the Western Conference with four points from six games.

LAST MATCH

  • The Timbers took the lead after just seven minutes. Maximiliano Urruti picked up a failed Chivas USA clearance and threaded a pass to Darlington Nagbe, who sliced a pass through two defenders to Will Johnson in open space. His rolling shot from just outside the box slipped past Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
  • But the visitors hit for the equalizer 11 minutes from time. Following a long pass down the left wing, Leandro Barrera crossed to the far post to an open Erick Torres, who tapped in for the easiest of finishes.
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made two changes that reached a 4-4 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at Providence Park. Donovan Ricketts came back in between the posts for Andrew Weber, and Mamadou Danso started in central defense in place of Norberto Paparatto.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-2-3): Donovan Ricketts - Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Mamadou Danso, Michael Harrington - Diego Valeri - Diego Chara, Will Johnson - Kalif Alhassan (Gaston Fernandez 62), Maximiliano Urruti, Darlington Nagbe.

TEAM NEWS

  • The Timbers saw the season-opening winless streak stretched to six games – but claimed a draw for the fourth time – in the deadlock with Chivas USA. The Timbers last year led the league with 15 draws, one shy of the MLS single-season record.
  • “We want to win. We are used to winning. So I think anything that is not a win, especially at home, is going to feel like a loss,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “When you’re on the road, you’ll swallow a draw. You’re not playing for a draw, but if you get one, it’s not a bad result at all, but at home it’s important to get three points as much as possible. We’re behind the eight-ball, obviously. There are plenty of examples of teams that started slow that have won it all.”
  • For a third consecutive game, the Timbers allowed the tying or losing goal late in the match, with Chivas USA scoring in the 79th minute. FC Dallas hit for the winner on March 29 in the 84th minute, and Seattle scored two goals after the 85th minute.
  • “One of two things has to happen, you either get the second goal or you manage the game 1-0,” Porter said. “And we were able to last year win a lot of games 1-0. We won a few games where it was more than that, but the majority of the games in this sport are 1-0 one way or another. Sometimes you don’t find the second goal, and we didn’t, but we have to win that game 1-0 if we don’t.”
  • There was a key change in central defense as Mamadou Danso started in favor of Norberto Paparatto. Alvas Powell made his second consecutive start at right back, in favor of Jack Jewsbury.
  • “I thought the back four was also much better, much tighter. I thought they did a great job, actually, over the course of the game with their box defending; they cut out a lot of crosses. It’s just unfortunate that [Erick Torres] got loose for the one, because we got punished,” Porter said. “I thought overall the defending was much better, the box defending, on set pieces and on crosses was much better. But we still have to, like I said at 1-0, keep a clean sheet so we win that game.”
  • After missing out on the Seattle match entirely, Gaston Fernandez came off the bench for the final half-hour vs. Chivas USA, in place of Kalif Alhassan.
  • Donovan Ricketts returned between the posts following a two-match absence, one enforced following his sending-off in the 2-0 loss to Colorado on March 22.
  • “We’re going to get a win. We’re going to get a lot of wins. But right now, things aren’t going our way, but we don’t dwell on that, we keep on playing because we’re not playing badly. The break is going to come and we are going to start winning,” said Ricketts. “… There’s nothing to panic about, it’s a long season. Some people start good early and some people pick up late. Looks like we are the latter, we are going to pick up late, but we are going to do well.”