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What we’re watching in Portland Timbers vs. Real Salt Lake

RSL conclude their road trip with a stop in the Rose City

Lucas Muller | RSL Soapbox

Real Salt Lake wrap up their busy week with a game in Portland against the Timbers. The impact of this game will be significant, as RSL are just above the playoff line and are one point and one place ahead of the Timbers. Portland have had a draw and two losses in their last three games, and RSL have had a loss, a draw, and win in their last three. Away to Portland has rarely been kind for RSL and this will be a challenging match.

Glad’s return

Justen Glad was out on Wednesday and the team suffered for it. Erik Holt kept the Galaxy attack onside for their one goal of the game, and while Holt is certainly not responsible for all the defensive struggles of the team, Glad is a level above him. Justen’s return will be a welcome improvement to the core of the defense.

The question of Toni Datkovic’s debut still lingers. He made the 18 on Wednesday but did not play. Surely Silva is in need of a rest, but starting an untested center back on the road is unlikely. The most likely outcome for Datkovic here is some minutes late in the second half.

Depth

We keep hearing that this RSL squad is the deepest it’s been in years. That may be true, but we’re not seeing the fruits of that depth. RSL’s attack has felt pretty lifeless over the last two games and that’s the opposite of what you would think when you have Chang, Kreilach, Julio, Menendez, Meram, Rubin, Rusnak, and Wood all ready to go. That’s 8 players for 4 spots. The substitution patterns have improved in the last few weeks, but there has to be more production when you have that many attackers eager to prove themselves.

Creativity

As mentioned above, the attack has been lackluster in the last few games. Who on the team is helping create those chances? In the last two games, RSL has put 4 shots on goal in each game. That’s not terrible, but the team needs to be creating more dangerous chances with more clinical finishing. Running up the wings and crossing, or a long ball over the top can’t be the only tools this team has to score. The issue isn’t as simple as good finishing, though that’s always welcome, but when your xG is only 0.8 against the Galaxy, something needs to change.

Injury report

Out: Zack Farnsworth, Andrew Brody, and David Ochoa

Predicted lineup