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Winning Eleven: RSL vs. Portland

Let’s look at some lineup options for Real Salt Lake as they host Portland Timbers.

Real Salt Lake v Seattle Sounders FC Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Winning Eleven is a series — or, it might be a series (this is the first one, after all) — looking at a potential lineup for the upcoming match and making some wild, ridiculous and not-very-good predictions.


  • Likely pick: Andrew Putna — I think he’ll continue in his starting role.
  • My pick: David Ochoa — That said, maybe Freddy Juarez was deflecting in his comments after last match about Ochoa, and we’ll see him start.

To make what I’ll propose later work, I think we need to build out of the back — we’ll lack height up top with what I’m thinking, and I think some passing action would help us achieve continuity between the defense and the midfield.


  • Likely picks: Aaron Herrera, Justen Glad, Nedum Onuoha, Donny Toia
  • My pick: See above. This is our best four-man backline.


  • Likely picks: Pablo Ruiz, Everton Luiz — in a two-man midfield as we play a 4-4-2
  • My pick: Pablo Ruiz, Everton Luiz, Damir Kreilach — in a three-man midfield, with Ruiz and Luiz deep and Kreilach higher


  • Likely picks: Corey Baird, Justin Meram
  • My pick: See above


  • Likely pick: Damir Kreilach
  • My pick: Maikel Chang

I’d actually like us to go a little nontraditional here. Maikel Chang has played forward with Real Monarchs in the past, but he’s definitely more of a midfielder. Putting him in a more central position may not get the best out of him, but he’s played the position with success.

To make it work, I’d have Aaron Herrera push into the attack frequently, providing width and opening space for Chang up top in a slightly asymmetrical approach. That could see Baird making runs more centrally, and Meram pushing up on the left side.


  • Likely picks: Douglas Martinez (20 minutes), Jeizon Ramirez (8 minutes)
  • My picks: Jeizon Ramirez (30 minutes), Tate Schmitt (20 minutes), Milan Iloski (10 minutes), Kyle Beckerman (5 minutes)

Alright, so this is the least valuable thing I could write, so take all this with a salt block. Substitutes are necessarily used as needed, so I am inventing a scenario here. If RSL is winning handily at halftime (which, uh...), I’d change this approach and be a bit more aggressive.

But if we’re being honest, I’m planning on RSL being behind at the 60th minute. I’d love to see Ramirez given a true opportunity to influence the match instead of garbage minutes. I’d love to see Tate Schmitt come on to provide late width as we change our approach. I’d love to see Milan Iloski get any minutes at all. I’d love to see Kyle Beckerman come on to help secure a victory.

I don’t know what the match will be like, but I am tired of setting my watch by substitutions, and I’d love to see players given opportunities from the bench instead of a few piddling minutes to try to influence the game.