Taking a look back at RSL and Portland through 2013: Goals galore before midfield locks down

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Let's take a quick walk through this season - we've played Portland four times and will play them a further two now, so understanding the results we've achieved against them already could prove encouraging.

August 7: Real Salt Lake 2-1 Portland (Open Cup)

This was the match that sent us to the US Open Cup Final, and strangely enough, it was the first time we'd faced Portland all year. Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata scored the two goals of the night for RSL, and all told, it wasn't an entirely uncomfortable affair. A 91st minute Portland goal scored by Diego Valeri made the affair slightly more tense, but we escaped relatively unscathed.

August 21: Portland 3-3 Real Salt Lake

This was as frustrating a match as you could ask for, but a late goal by Cole Grossman - 93rd minute late - was magical and exciting. That one also saw Nat Borchers score his first of the season, and the sides traded penalties. Jeff Attinella, in for Nick Rimando, did quite well despite conceding three - the defense fell asleep for one, and one was a penalty given when the ball popped up and hit Brandon McDonald's elbow (though it should be noted that the player surely can't have deliberated on the play, as he was facing the wrong way). Yordany Alvarez was sent off that day, too, which makes the end-game heroics even greater.

August 30: Real Salt Lake 4-2 Portland

Inexplicably, and despite his side not failing through tactical means before, Caleb Porter sent the Timbers out in a strange 3-4-3 that saw them concede four. Luis Gil scored the first one, and it's one of his finest of the season; Joao Plata scored one after cutting in from wide that just rebounded off the post; Javier Morales scored an audacious bicycle kick; and Alvaro Saborio rounded off the scoring with a flick-on header. Defensively, we were again a bit poor - Darlington Nagbe's goal came when he was afforded all the time and space in the world just outside the box, and Sal Zizzo scored a goal when simply nobody followed him and he was allowed to collect a rebound. This one also saw a player sent off; this time, it was Ben Zemanski for Portland, whose tackle was probably a yellow at best, but his post-tackle lifting of the foot to flip Ned Grabavoy in the air was the escalating factor.

October 19: Portland 0-0 Real Salt Lake

After two consecutive six-goal games, a 0-0 draw was almost inevitable. Caleb Porter and Jason Kreis, in less than two months, both turned their focus toward locking down the midfield; consequently, neither side really looked like scoring. This match saw one of our uses of Yordany Alvarez and Kyle Beckerman in the same side, and with some success - the midfield became so incredibly bogged down that there was nowhere to go at all.

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