1. How are Timbers supporters feeling about heading into the second leg down 4-2? Was that late goal something that returned a glimmer of hope to eyes, or is doom and gloom still the order of the day?
The Frederic Piquionne goal was huge, especially for fans. No doubt the players and coaches would have felt there would be reason to believe, even down 4-1, but for fans a two-goal deficit is so much easier to swallow. Of course, one look at the season series and some of that hope is dampened. But in general, the Timbers have been able to score goals at home so it is definitely not outside the realm of possibility to imagine Portland scoring a couple of goals and creating a really interesting final few minutes or overtime.
2. Are you worried about set piece goals and goals on the break? If you had to define RSL, these sorts of goals might not be at the top of the list, but with all four from one of those two methods last time, is there considerable work to be done?
Set piece defending has been a big problem for Portland all year, so it's nothing new, necessarily. For most of the season the Timbers have been able to avoid defeat despite giving up so many goals on set pieces, but clearly this second leg is going to be about a lot more than avoiding defeat. Even if Caleb Porter can get his team tighter on free kicks and corners, the need to to get forward and score goals is going to leave his team even more susceptible to counter attacks than usual. The high pressure and up-tempo style Portland has employed most of this season has left big gaps between midfield and defense, and no one has punished the Timbers for that more than Real Salt Lake. In a game of this nature, with the circumstances as they are, set piece defending and caution against the counter are not mutually exclusive, but they're going to need to be sharp on both to even make an offensive effort worthwhile.
3. How will Portland Timbers approach this one? Calmly, knowing that two goals is "all" they need to force at least extra time? Or will it be something a bit more attacking in nature?
Calmly is actually probably the best answer, given Porter's overall temperament and game plan. Obviously, if it's the 60th minute and the Timbers still haven't scored, it could be time to scramble a bit. But Portland has tried to keep things fairly even all year. Abandoning what got them to this point for some kind of all out assault is just not something I see Porter doing. Ultimately he's willing to be flexible to get results but he really wants his system to be the reason for the team's success. He'll give that a go for a while and will make changes if necessary. The usual set up is pretty offensively focused so expect to see more of the same, at least in the first half. Though if RSL sneak a goal in first, everything could go out the window.
Predicted line-up: Ricketts; Harrington, Futty, Kah, Jewsbury; W Johnson, Chara; Wallace, Valeri, Nagbe; R Johnson
(don't be surprised to see Sal Zizzo, Jose Valencia or Piquionne as additional attacking options)