SANDY, Utah — You again?
Real Salt Lake are set to face the Portland Timbers for the third time in August when they kick off Friday night (10 pm ET, NBC Sports Network) at Rio Tinto Stadium.
"It is like training now," joked RSL midfielder Javier Morales after practice on Thursday about facing the same team so often. "We've played three times in like 20 days. It's crazy, but it is always good to play against good teams.
"You know the guys you train with everyday, so it is like that and it is going to be a little harder to play against," continued Morales.
While the frequent meetings may make it difficult for the players because of learned tendencies, RSL manager Jason Kreis feels the preparation is much simpler.
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"I think it is easier," he said. "We don't need to spend a lot of time on the video when we just played them a week ago and then a couple of weeks ago before that. It's a team we are very familiar with right now. I think it makes things kind of interesting because you get some real competitiveness and some real fighting spirit between the two teams."
The competitive juices should be flowing after their last week's match in Portland ended with an RSL stoppage time goal for a 3-3 draw.
The Claret-and-Cobalt were missing three of their top players for that match as starters Kyle Beckerman (suspension), Nick Rimando (illness) and Alvaro Saborio (calf strain) were forced to sit out. On Friday, all three are expected to be available.
"I think we gain a little bit of an uptick, obviously, because Beckerman, Rimando and Saborio are pretty special players," Kreis said.
"Having Sabo and Nick and Becks back, helps out a lot for sure," said defender Nat Borchers. "But it doesn't change the way we approach the game."
Michael Black covers Real Salt Lake for MLSsoccer.com.