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Jordan Allen has perfect opportunity to impress in must-win match against Portland Timbers

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Real Salt Lake faces Portland Timbers tomorrow in what's a true must-win match, but absences to both of RSL's left backs puts the team in a bit of a quandary.

But that problem's likely to be solved by the integration of young star Jordan Allen, who has impressed in most of his appearances for the team.

The magnitude of the match against ndortlad — and the opportunity Real Salt Lake has to inch toward a playoff position — doesn't escape Allen, the second-year utility player that came out of RSL's highly considered academy setup.

"I’ve been watching the team for the past four or five years now, and I don’t want my first year contributing to be the first year we don’t make the playoffs," he said. "That’s really important to me as someone who’s come through the academy and seen the success of RSL. When I’m contributing, I want it to be a contribution that leads to consistency and hopefully more playoff berths."

Despite not being a natural outside back, Allen said he's been adapting his game to succeed in the position.

"I think naturally, I’m just a little bit more attacking," he said. "With that being said, I’ve kind of turned my attacking instincts down a little bit, just because it’s more important for us to keep clean sheets right now."

Tony Beltran is likely to shift over to the left side in the absences of Phillips and Mansally, and to better accommodate Allen's right-sided tendencies.

Now a true veteran, having been with the team since 2008, Beltran said he's tried to impart some of what he's learned on Allen.

"There are a couple things that I’ve told Jordan," he said. "The biggest thing that I’ve told all of the young kids is to play with no fear. You’re here for a reason, and I see them every day. They all have the ability. When they go out there, I want them to be fearless, to have the confidence that they belong on the field."

Beltran emphasized that Allen shows that ability in spades.

"Jordan, he’s no exception," Beltran said. "His ceiling is very, very high. This is a new position for him, but I think you can see, he can adapt very quickly because he’s a special soccer player."

And while RSL coach Jeff Cassar wasn't drawn on whether or not Allen was a lock to start at right back — he also pointed at Justen Glad as an option at full back — he did say that the situation helps keep players focused.

"It’s good for a coach because everyone’s got to be prepared at all times to contribute," Cassar said. "You never know. So it keeps everybody on their toes, it keeps everybody interested and focused, and that’s all you can ask for."