Timbers-Real Salt Lake Preview


Although injuries and international duty have put a dent in its outstanding start, Real Salt Lake still has a chance to remain undefeated at home both this season and in the four-year history of their visits from the Portland Timbers.

Salt Lake will try to break out of its scoring slump as it looks to extend an 11-game unbeaten streak against the rival Timbers across all competitions on Saturday night.

Since scoring a league high-tying 23 goals during a 6-0-5 start that was one result shy of setting the MLS record for the longest undefeated start to a season, RSL (6-1-7) has scored once while going 0-1-2.

Following a 4-0 loss at Seattle on Saturday, Luis Gil scored his second goal of the season to end the team's 275-minute goal drought Wednesday before Columbus responded in the 88th minute to force a 1-all draw.

Short-handed RSL - second in the Western Conference with 25 points - has been without leading scorers Alvaro Saborio and Joao Plata because of injury, while Kyle Beckerman is with the U.S. World Cup team.

Though Saborio will miss at least three months following foot surgery, Plata might be able to give the team a boost if he's able to return from a hamstring injury. The forward had four goals over a five-game stretch before missing the last two.

Portland (3-4-7), meanwhile, hasn't had much trouble on the attack of late. With Maximiliano Urruti providing four goals in his last three matches and Gaston Fernandez scoring four times in his last seven, the Timbers have a West-best 14 goals since May 1.

They also haven't been shut out since a 1-0 loss in Salt Lake on April 19. RSL's Nick Rimando, however, won't be in net this time because of World Cup duties, leaving Jeff Attinella to fill in.

"You know they want to beat us and we want to beat them," Attinella told the team's official website. "It's developed into quite a nice little rivalry."

It's a rivalry that has been one-sided with RSL going 8-0-3 since dropping the first meeting in April 2011. That run includes a 2-1 win in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup semifinals and two victories in last season's Western Conference final.

Salt Lake has outscored Portland 17-7 while going 6-0-1 at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Ned Grabavoy helped continue that success April 19 when he scored his only goal of the season to give RSL a 1-0 home win.

"We had more shots, we had more possessions and I felt like we deserved to win," Portland coach Caleb Porter recalled. "Overall, it was probably our best game against them."

After going 3-0-3 in their previous six games, the Timbers suffered a 4-3 home loss to Vancouver in a Cascadia Cup rivalry match Sunday. It was their first loss in 23 home matches dating to March 9, 2013.

A victory Saturday would give Portland its first three-game road winning streak since joining MLS.