clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Three things to watch as RSL takes on Portland Timbers

New, 1 comment

Real Salt Lake will face a real test tonight in the US Open Cup: Portland Timbers, who have won five of their last six matches in MLS.

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

1. Can RSL find a 90-minute — or 120-minute, even — lineup?

Real Salt Lake has played some grueling games in recent weeks, and it's made things difficult. With tonight's match, don't count on RSL having much in the tank — gritting out a draw to head to extra time is probably a non-starter.

That's all true unless RSL miraculously pulls out a lineup that can run for that long. It might take some changes — maybe Sebastian Saucedo gets the start over somebody, and maybe Pecka replaces Luis Gil or Luke Mulholland. Expect Jordan Allen to start, too.

Demar Phillips should appear, too, and we might even get to see Elias Vasquez. But will that be enough to revitalize a squad that's been forced into marathons over the last two games — in a week's time?

2. Will young players step into significant roles against a good side?

Portland Timbers seem almost certain to play some of their veteran players — you know, the Nat Borchers and Will Johnsons of the world, with whom we are very familiar — and that always can make a game more difficult for a young player on the opposite side. But expect to see players like Sebastian Saucedo, who is young and exciting and creative, and expect them to be tasked with finding ways around those veterans.

Of course, they could all be bolstered by one Javier Morales, who didn't play in RSL's last match after picking up a red card in his previous match.

3. Can RSL get creative?

The biggest struggle facing Real Salt Lake this season — aside from untimely injuries, of course — has been a lack of creativity. That's tough to achieve without the team's most creative player, Javier Morales, out there, but it should still be something achievable. And while Morales just might play in this one, the point stands: RSL has to be increasingly able to provide creativity without him.