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Match preview: Amid uncertainty, RSL plans to push forward with match in Portland

Amid protests across all major sports earlier this week against racial inequality and injustice, followed up by the craziest 24 hours the club has seen to date, it sounds like RSL is planning on making the trip to Portland to take on the Timbers as regular season play resumes.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Well, this feels a little weird given everything that’s happened in the last couple days, but here we are to talk about a match that, as of right now, is set to be played as Real Salt Lake travels to Portland.

With the NBA announcing today that play will resume while making real, tangible changes in the political and social landscape of our country, we can most likely safely assume that play will also resume for other major leagues as well. However, given all the drama and developments around Dell Loy Hansen’s atrocious misconduct and subsequent investigation, I wouldn’t be too surprised if the RSL players decide to call this game off in the meantime.

For the time being, though, let’s move ahead with the assumption that this game will take place, even though soccer feels small at the moment.

Real Salt Lake will face off against the Portland Timbers for the first time this year as they’ve both played just six games attributed to the regular season. The Timbers are coming off a 3-0 loss to the Seattle Sounders last week, while RSL crushed their rivals in that 4-1 victory in Colorado on August 22.

Both teams were scheduled to play other games this past Wednesday, but as we all know, almost all the games were postponed due to players declining to play in protest in the wake of the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.

Real Salt Lake

Record: 2-1-3 (9 points)
Table: 6th place (west)
Points per game: 1.50
Most goals: Damir Kreilach (3)
Most assists: Maikel Chang (2), Corey Baird (2)
Clean sheets: 3

It’ll be interesting to see if Maikel Chang will have as much of an impact in Portland as he did on Colorado, when he came off the bench to score one goal and notch two assists. He brought plenty of life to the match after RSL looked listless in the first half, heading into the locker room trailing 1-0.

RSL will look to jump in the standings as they currently sit in sixth place, and if other results go their way they could potentially find themselves leapfrogging all the way to second place with a win over the Timbers.

Justin Meram also had himself a fantastic game in Colorado, scoring his first goal in an RSL kit as he put the nail in the coffin that would seal the 4-1 victory.

RSL has only won twice in regular season play in Portland, while the Timbers have pulled out four wins on their home field. The last time they met was in October of 2019 when RSL grabbed a 2-1 victory at Rio Tinto Stadium.


OUT: Douglas Martinez (concussion)
DOUBTFUL: Christopher Garcia (non-soccer injury)

Projected Lineup

MacMath; Herrera, Glad, Onuoha, Toia; Luiz, Besler; Rusnak, Kreilach, Baird; Chang

Portland Timbers

Record: 3-2-1 (10 points)
Table: 4th place (west)
Points per game: 1.67
Most goals: Diego Valeri (3), Jeremy Ebobisse (3)
Most assists: Sebastian Blanco (3)
Clean sheets: 1

Since being crowned the MLS is Back Tournament champions, the Timbers had hoped to keep that momentum going into phase one of the regular season return. They were handed a wake-up call from Cascadia rivals Seattle Sounders as they were trounced 3-0 in their first game back since tournament play.

They were slated to play the San Jose Earthquakes — who have looked mighty decent themselves — last Wednesday in the match that didn’t end up taking place. So, Diego Valeri and the boys will hope to bounce back from that Seattle defeat with a win at home over the visiting claret-and-cobalt.

Sure, they have a track record of beating RSL at home. If we’ve learned one thing about 2020, though, it’s that truly anything can happen. Real Salt Lake played some of their best attacking soccer we’ve seen in a long time last week in the second half of the Colorado game, and with all the tension and pent-up frustrations surrounding the club this week, it might just fuel them to come out even more aggressive and send more balls into the back of the net at Providence Park.

Jeremy Ebobisse has been somewhat of a godsend for the Timbers since he’s come into his own over the last couple of seasons. Last season, he played in all 34 games and scored 11 goals throughout. So far this year, he’s played in all six games (started in only three) but has notched three goals already.

With rumors swirling around about European clubs looking to snatch him up, though, it seems that his time in Portland may not last too much longer.


OUT: Dairon Asprilla (knee surgery, out for season)
QUESTIONABLE: Yimmi Chara (thigh injury)

Projected Lineup

Clark; Duvall, Mabiala, Tuiloma, Villafana; Diego Chara, Williamson; Loria, Valeri, Blanco; Ebobisse

Match info

When: Saturday, August 29th, 2020, 8:30PM MT

Where: Providence Park — Portland, OR

Weather: 66 degrees, clear

Broadcast: KMYU, KSL TV app (streaming), ESPN+ (streaming), ESPN700 (radio)