There are plenty of reasons to look forward to Real Salt Lake’s matchup with the Portland Timbers this Saturday night, but let’s look at a few key points that should get RSL fans really excited.
1. RSL’s Lethal Attack
Anyone who has watched one of RSL’s four games this season (including the two SCCL matches) can tell you that the offensive portion is the absolute least of our worries. With a front three like Joao Plata, Yura Movsisyan, and Juan Manuel Martinez looking more cohesive and fluid every single game, there’s a lot to look forward to.
Plata’s sitting on two goals and two assists after only two games played on the season. It’s no secret that he’s often the fastest one on the field and can sneak in behind defenders with ease.
Despite not being able to notch his first goal of the 2016 campaign quite yet, Movsisyan has been playing extremely well. He’s had several golden opportunities, he tracks back on defense anytime he needs to, he chases down balls, has great awareness and positioning, and isn’t afraid to take on players one-on-one. It’s only a matter of time before the flood gates open for Yura, but in the meantime, he’ll continue to help create chances for his other attacking teammates to score.
The play between Martinez and Javier Morales has been magical to watch at times. With Morales looking set to make a return this weekend after sitting out the last game with an injury, there should be plenty of service and action in the attacking third.
2. Captain Liam Ridgewell injured
Helping the attacking side of RSL’s play, Portland’s stalwart center back and captain Liam Ridgewell is currently out for four to six weeks with an injury after their first game. With Jermaine Taylor sliding in from left back to cover the center back position next to Borchers and Zarek Valentin coming on to start at left back, it should leave Martinez and Movsisyan plenty of room to roam freely on that side of the field.
It was apparent last week against San Jose that, even with Borchers still controlling the Portland backline, they still struggled a bit without Ridgewell in as a starter as they lost to the Earthquakes by a score of 2-1.
3. Borchers and redemption from 2015
Nat Borchers. "Borchers tortures" is a sentiment that rang true in RSL’s favor at Rio Tinto Stadium for many years, and it’s one that stung fans just as badly last year after Borchers was dealt to Portland during the 2014-2015 offseason.
In Portland’s first visit to Rio Tinto in August 2015, Borchers scored the winning goal off a header in the dying seconds of stoppage time to send the Timbers home with a 1-0 victory and a full three points.
Whether he’s playing for us or against us, there’s no denying that Nat Borchers is an extremely talented player, an experienced veteran with great leadership skills, and an all-around classy person. It seems that fans in Salt Lake still have nothing but love for the RSL legend.
The Timbers also defeated RSL in Utah just two months after the Borchers game-winning header in the dying weeks of the season, which adds even more fuel to the fire for Real Salt Lake to walk into Providence Park on Saturday and grab the full three points in a win.
Going into the 2016 season with a new look and fresh faces, and also coming off a win last week against Seattle, RSL will hope to keep rolling forward with their momentum against the Timbers on Saturday night.