Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake | 2017 MLS Match Preview
Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake
2017 MLS Regular Season
Providence Park - Portland, Ore.
Wednesday, July 19 – 10:30 pm ET
WATCH: MLS LIVE
Perhaps no one has felt the Gold Cup break to be longer than fans of Real Salt Lake, who were treated to a rare but dazzling display of what their team might be capable of just before going on a two-week hiatus.
Behind the burgeoning young pairing of Albert Rusnak and Jefferson Savarino, the Claret and Cobalt hit the net a stunning half-dozen times in a 6-2 victory at the LA Galaxy on July 4th to escape the Western Conference cellar.
Yes, the victory may have come against a defensively shorthanded LA side. And with 20 games played, Mike Petke's group will still have to make an impressive run to make up ground on other playoff contenders who have played one to three fewer matches so far.
But with the 20-year Savarino and 23-year-old Rusnak having only started six matches together this season, there's reason to expect what the Venezuelan and Slovakian produce in the near future will be better than what has happened in the recent past.
And the first chance to prove that is Wednesday night in the Pacific Northwest against a Portland Timbers side that has earned only three points in its last five matches.
Caleb Porter's men have at least drawn their last three in this uneven stretch. But he won't get any of his international absences back after the end of group play at the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup and instead has lost another one, with midfielder Darlington Nagbe joining the US for the knockout phase.
International and injury absences have left the backline shorthanded in particular. The arrival Congolese international Larrys Mabiala should help things eventually, though at the moment he might not be match fit, according to The Oregonian.
- Suspended: None
- Int’l Duty: M David Guzman (Costa Rica, Gold Cup), M Darren Mattocks (Jamaica, Gold Cup), D Alvas Powell (Jamaica, Gold Cup), M Darlington Nagbe (United States, Gold Cup)
- Injury Report: OUT – D Gbenga Orokoyo (Achilles' tear, out for the season), M Jack Barmby (ankle), D Liam Ridgewell (quad injury), D Amobi Okugo (knee injury); QUESTIONABLE: D Chance Myers (hamstring), D Vytautas Andriuskeviscius (hamstring), M Diego Chara (hamstring)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Jake Gleeson – Vytautas Andriuskeviscius, Roy Miller, Lawrence Olum, Zarek Valentin – Diego Chara, Ben Zemanski – Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, Dairon Asprilla – Fanendo Adi
Notes: Portland have drawn three straight MLS games, which ties a franchise regular season record, a mark also hit from March 7 to March 21, 2015 and July 4 to July 13, 2016. … Sebastian Blanco attempted 44 passes in the Chicago half during Portland’s last game. This was the most passes he attempted in the opposition half in his 19 MLS appearances.
Real Salt Lake
Yura Movsisyan's spat with coach Mike Petke may not have immediately resulted in more playing time, and there's even talk the Armenian international could be traded within the league. But he was another RSL attacker who had an above-average night against LA in a game full of them, scoring his sixth goal of the season and registering four shots, three of them on target.
With 14 matches to play and fixture congestion not an issue, hitting 10 league goals for the first time in his career is a reasonable target, should Movsisyan continue to call Real Salt Lake his home. For what it's worth, he's scored twice in his last three matches against Portland, dating back to last season.
- Suspended: M Sunday Stephen (yellow card accumulation)
- Suspended next yellow card: D Chris Schuler
- International duty: None
- Injury Report: OUT: F Chad Barrett (knee), F Jordan Allen (knee), M Omar Holness (knee); QUESTIONABLE: F Brooks Lennon (ankle), M Sunday Stephen (hamstring injury)
Projected Starting XI (4-2-3-1, left to right): Nick Rimando – Demar Phillips, Aaron Maund, Justen Glad, Tony Beltran – Kyle Beckerman, Luke Mulholland – Joao Plata, Albert Rusnak, Jefferson Savarino – Yura Movsisyan
Notes: Albert Rusnak had a goal and two assists against LA Galaxy in Real Salt Lake’s last game. It was his second time with a goal and two assists in an MLS game (first: vs. Vancouver on April 9 of this year). There has only been other instance of an RSL player scoring and having two assists in the same game since the start of the 2010 season. … Real Salt Lake’s 6-2 win over LA Galaxy in their last game was just the second time in franchise history that they scored six goals in a single regular season match. They had scored just six goals in their previous seven games combined (2W-5L).
This will be the 18th meeting between Portland and Real Salt Lake in regular season MLS action. After losing five of the first nine matches between the two (1W-3D), Portland is unbeaten in the last eight matches (4W-4D) dating back to June 7th, 2014.
- Overall: Portland 5 wins (20 goals) … RSL 5 wins (22 goals) … Ties 7
- At Portland: Portland 2 wins (9 goals) … RSL 1 win (8 goals) … Ties 5
Referee: Baldomero Toledo
Assistant Referees: Eduardo Mariscal, Mike Kampmeinert
Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz