Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake | MLS Match Preview

JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
August 21, 2013 (WEEK 26, MLS Game #232)
8 p.m. PT (ROOT-NW; KUCW)

A crucial match not only in Western Conference but also in the race for the Supporters’ Shield kicks off Wednesday night at Jeld-Wen Field when the Portland Timbers play host to Real Salt Lake. The teams are separated by just three points, the Timbers now in third place in the West following their 2-1 home win against FC Dallas last weekend, while RSL is still the overall leader after its 4-2 loss at the LA Galaxy. It’s the first league meeting this season between the clubs, but Real did advance to the U.S. Open Cup Final with a victory against the Timbers two weeks ago.


REFEREE: Ricardo Salazar. AR1 (bench): Ian Anderson; AR2 (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Jesus Cisneros
MLS Career: 175 games; FC/gm: 26.8; Y/gm: 3.4; R: 50; pens: 59
SUSPENDED: RSL: Kyle Beckerman (caution accumulation; through August 21)

  • SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Pa Modou Kah, Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski … RSL: Ned Grabavoy, Olmes Garcia, Chris Wingert
  • SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Will Johnson … RSL: Lovel Palmer, Yordany Alvarez


ALL-TIME (5 meetings): Timbers 1 win, 5 goals … Real 3 wins, 9 goals … Ties 1
AT PORTLAND (2 meetings): Timbers 1 win, 3 goals … Real 1 win, 3 goals … Ties 0
RETURN MATCHES: 8/30: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, 8 p.m. MT (NBCSN); 10/19: Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake, 7:30 p.m. PT

3/31: POR 2, RSL 3 (Nagbe 48, 65 – Saborio 39; Steele 89; Beckerman 93+)
7/7: RSL 3, POR 0 (Saborio (60, 62, 75)
9/22: RSL 2, POR 1 (Espindola 14; Morales 36 – Dike 61)

  • RSL won all three league meetings between the teams a season ago. The Timbers have won once in five league meetings all-time – a 1-0 win in the first encounter between the clubs, April 30, 2011 in Portland.
  • Coaches record: Caleb Porter vs. RSL: first game … Jason Kreis vs. POR: P5 W3 L1 D1


  • While the teams have not met in MLS play this season, they did play in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal Aug. 7 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Alvaro Saborio scored in the seventh minute and Joao Plata netted in the 78th to lead RSL to a 2-1 victory; Diego Valeri scored a late stoppage time goal for Portland.
  • Here’s the RSL team: Nick Rimando; Tony Beltran, Nat Borchers, Carlos Salcedo, Chris Wingert; Kyle Beckerman; Luis Gil (Yordany Alvarez, 88’), Khari Stephenson (Javier Morales, 80’); Ned Grabavoy; Robbie Findley (Joao Plata, 61’), Alvaro Saborio
  • Here’s the Timbers team: Donovan Ricketts; Michael Harrington, Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Ryan Miller (Alvas Powell, 77’); Diego Chara, Will Johnson (Kalif Alhassan, 63’), Diego Valeri; Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia, 63’), Rodney Wallace

The Portland Timbers won their first game in four matches, defeating FC Dallas 2-1 on Saturday evening at Jeld-Wen Field. The Timbers are in third place in the Western Conference with 38 points from 23 matches.


  • The Timbers broke through in the 26th minute when Diego Valeri sent a corner kick to the middle of the six, where Ryan Johnson met it with a powerful header to beat FC Dallas goalkeeper Raúl Fernández.
  • FCD countered right back two minutes later when a clever through ball from Fabián Castillo found a streaking Mauro Díaz, who finished brilliantly past Timbers goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts.
  • But just five minutes later Portland regained the lead, again set up by Valeri. He made a run to just outside the area, unlocking Nagbe from the right wing with a perfectly placed pass, and Nagbe unleashed a blast Fernández into the far top upper corner.
  • Timbers head coach Caleb Porter made three changes to the team that reached a 1-1 draw with Vancouver Whitecaps FC at Jeld-Wen Field. Diego Chara and Ben Zemanski came into the midfield in place of Jack Jewsbury and Will Johnson, and Ryan Johnson started up top in place of Frederic Piquionne.
  • PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-2-1-3): Donovan Ricketts - Alvas Powell, Pa Modou Kah, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Michael Harrington - Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski - Diego Valeri (Kalif Alhassan 79) - Darlington Nagbe, Ryan Johnson (Jose Adolfo Valencia 73), Rodney Wallace.


  • The Timbers are undefeated over their last nine games at Jeld-Wen Field (7-0-2), their only loss in the Rose City this season having come on March 9 vs. Montréal.
  • “This team has got the mentality, I’ve never questioned that, and I don’t know why anybody else would, but this is one game down,” said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. “… We’re in the last stretch here. And we want to hit the last stretch running, sprinting. We don’t want to wait for the last three or four games to now sprint, we’re going to start sprinting now, and I thought we showed how hungry we are to make the playoffs.”
  • Midfielder Diego Valeri has assisted on each one of the Timbers last six goals, over the past five games, setting up both goals in win against FC Dallas. Valeri is second in MLS with 10 assists.
  • “He’s exactly what we thought he’d be and exactly what we wanted him to be,” Porter said. “He’s a playmaker. He’s a final passer. He’s a guy that sets people up. That’s what you want out of your No. 10. … He’s the creator and the guy that should be setting guys up. He’s capable of scoring goals, but he’ll have more assists than goals.”
  • Said midfielder Ben Zemanski: “I thought [Valeri] was big-time for us. He played some final balls and he had a couple chances for himself that he was a little unlucky on. I thought he performed very well for us, he defended well, he attacked well. He was a true maestro.”
  • Timbers striker Ryan Johnson scored his fourth goal over the last seven games against FC Dallas. Johnson had gone nearly two months without an MLS goal before starting the current run on June 23.
  • Darlington Nagbe also scored his second goal in the last three games, his seventh of the season. It’s a new single-season career-high for Nagbe, in his third MLS season; he had six goals a season ago.
  • “Ryan Johnson, Darlington, they are very fast and I just try to get the ball into the six because this is my job,” Valeri said.
  • Will Johnson was out for the first time this season, unavailable for the FCD match after suffering a shoulder injury the week before. Johnson had missed two matches earlier, both because of international duty for the CONCACAF Gold Cup with Canada.
  • Diego Chara also returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two matches; he was taken off at halftime in his last league outing, July 20 vs. Philadelphia.

Real Salt Lake had their road winless streak stretched to three matches, the LA Galaxy rolling to a 4-2 victory Saturday evening at StubHub Center. RSL lead the Western Conference with 41 points from 24 games.


  • Real opened the scoring in the 53rd minute. Nat Borchers collected an LA clearance near midfield and quickly played it forward to Ned Grabavoy just above the Galaxy box. Grabavoy sliced it to the streaking Joao Plata, who slotted past LA goalkeeper Jaime Penedo.
  • But the Galaxy claimed the lead with two goals from Robbie Keane. In the 56th minute, Keane took a long ball from Juninho at the top of the box, cut back to his right and fired inside the right post from the edge of the box. His second came 11 minutes later when Sean Franklin ran onto a ball and crossed from the right flank, where Keane volleyed home at the near post.
  • The Galaxy made it 3-1 with a quarter-hour to play, when newly minted Designated Player Omar Gonzalez nodded in Landon Donovan's corner kick from the left. Keane finished off his hat trick in the 86th minute, racing onto a Franklin ball played over the RSL backline and lifting it over an onrushing Nick Rimando into the net.
  • Robbie Findley netted a second goal for RSL with the game's final touch, tapping home from close range after Borchers dropped a free kick into the mixer.
  • RSL head coach Jason Kreis made one change to the team that defeated the Houston Dynamo 1-0 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Luis Gil came back into the team in place of Olmes Garcia.
  • REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran, Carlos Salcedo, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert (Abdoulie Mansally 81) - Luis Gil (Olmes Garcia 74), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales - Joao Plata, Alvaro Saborio (Robbie Findley 66).


  • Real Salt Lake had gone more than a year since giving up four or more goals in a game, but they’ve done it now twice in four matches. RSL conceded four times to New York on July 27 before the 4-2 loss at LA; they had last allowed that many goals in a 5-0 to San Jose on July 14, 2012.
  • “[Tony] Beltran, [Chris] Wingert, [Nat] Borchers, Carlos [Salcedo], those guys made some sliding and lunging tackles to save plays in the first half,” said RSL head coach Jasonn Kreis. “I think you have to feel if you’re going to have to do that all night at some point, it’s going to give, and it gave in the second half for sure.”
  • Said goalkeeper Nick Rimando: “They had the better chances. They were fresh, sharp. The first half and second half, we weren’t as sharp as we want to be, especially defensively. It’s definitely humbling and they’re the past champions for a reason. It’s good to go against these guys and see where we’re at and know that next time, we’ve got to be better.”
  • With the weekend’s other results, RSL still held onto the top spot in the Western Conference and in his MLS overall table. Fifteen of the league’s 19 teams are within a 10-point span.
  • “It’s cool to be at the top, but we’re not really too concerned with it. We’ll start talking about it with three games left, but with 10 games left there’s too much soccer to be played. And with seventh and first (separated by) seven points everybody is in the race for the Supporters’ Shield,” said midfielder Kyle Beckerman.
  • Center back Nat Borchers played a part in both RSL goals in their 4-2 loss at the LA Galaxy last weekend, credited with assists on each, his first two assists this season and first since May 7, 2011.
  • Joao Plata scored his first goal since May 19, his second of the season, in making a second consecutive start up top. He played the full 90 minutes for just the third time this season.
  • Coming off the substitutes’ bench after not featuring in the Houston match, Robbie Findley scored his sixth goal of the year. His last goal came in his last start, July 20 vs. Sporting KC.
  • “We give the ball away cheaply in poor spots, they’re right on top of you and with the dangerous players they have there in front of goal it can make things extremely difficult,” Kreis said. “Another night that I just don’t think that we’ve been good enough with the ball.”

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