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RSL vs. Portland Timbers: What to Watch

The third preseason friendly takes RSL out of the desert and into the City of Roses for a three-game tournament.

MLS: Portland Timbers at Real Salt Lake Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

In Real Salt Lake’s third friendly of the 2017 preseason, the team takes on Portland Timbers. This will be the team’s first game in a tournament in which they will also play against Vancouver Whitecaps and Minnesota United.

Team chemistry

In the first two preseason games we started to notice some good interplay within the team. Rusnak and Movsisyan were connecting fairly well and we’re hoping to see that from every player, in every position until we have a clear 18-man match day squad. The team struggled with connecting passes in the friendly against San Jose, and we want that cleaned up against Portland.

The attack and the back-up attack

Once the season begins, the starting 11 attack will likely be Rusnák in the number ten spot, Plata on the left wing, Yura up top, and Allen on the right wing. The backups to these positions are roughly Hernández or Silva (Silva can play different spots) in the number ten role, Barrett in the center, with Velazco and Lennon on the wings.

Rusnak was good in the 45 minutes he played in our last friendly, but we still don’t have a feel for him and how he relates to his teammates. Hernández and Silva both looked good in the two previous games, so watch where they end up on the field. Velazco will play on the wings, and with Lennon out, it’ll be interesting to see which side he plays. Movsisyan has reportedly lost weight and improved his fitness in the offseason, so watch for a fitter, faster attack out of the Armenian striker. When the team took on San Jose, Barrett was able to get himself into dangerous spots but couldn’t finish, including a missed penalty.

Outside backs

While Demar Phillips and Tony Beltran are solid outside backs, their positions have the least amount of depth on the team. Wingert might be an intelligent defender, but he has slowed down greatly since returning to RSL. Dunk was good in the last match, so it’s nice we’ll get another look at him. Acosta, who Craig Waibel indicated would play at left back, is out with the U20s.

It would be great to see how some of our younger players preform with the team, but sadly and proudly, five players in the Real organization (Justin Glad, Aaron Herrera, Danny Acosta, Sebastian Saucedo, Brooks Lennon) are out with the U20 MNT camp and if called into the tournament, we likely won’t have them back until early March. We’ll have to wait a bit longer before we can see them in action, with RSL at least.