It’s the first game for Real Salt Lake since the players, along with LAFC, decided to boycott Wednesday’s game in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake. That boycott resulted in club owner Dell Loy Hansen getting on the radio the next morning to express how disrespected he felt by their choice. Since then, things have gotten much worse for Hansen as fans expressed anger at his comments, and now both Major League Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League have opened investigations into Hansen as other allegations have been unearthed as well. There’s a lot of outside pressure beyond the three points in this game.
Will they play?
The first question on everyone’s minds is if the players will participate in the game at all. The team has traveled to Portland, and it does seem likely that they’ll play, but with games having already been postponed and the added issues of Hansen’s comments, would anyone blame the RSL players if they decided to not play? Another question is if there will be any form of protest of the RSL owner at this game.
How will the attack lineup
We’ve seen a good deal of rotation in the attack. From what we heard on Wednesday, the starting lineup against LAFC was supposed to be pretty close to the closing lineup against Colorado. RSL beat the Rapids in a 4-1 coming where they destroyed Colorado in the second half. Some players, like Onuoha, who might have been on the bench against LAFC could start now they’ve had more time to rest.
The questions around two new attacking talents to the team in Giuseppe Rossi and Jeizon Ramírez remain. They didn’t make the 18 for the Rapids game but are supposed to both important players for this team. They’re not injured, either. Will they see minutes in this game?
Maikel Chang’s performance against the Rapids was sublime. He came on in the second half, in place of midfielder Everton Luiz and that seemed to be a strange substitution. Chang then went on to get a goal and provide two assists. Real might not get that win over their rivals without his work. It seems likely that he will start against Portland, but the Timbers are a much better team than Colorado. Granted, they were smashed 0-3 by Seattle, but they are the reigning MLS Is Back champions, so they should be a better test than Colorado.
Not medically cleared to play:
Douglas Martinez (concussion)
Christopher Garcia (non soccer injury)