The best way to get rid of the sour taste of last Saturday would be to come out and take it to Real Salt Lake. Of course, it would be a little easier if RSL hadn't lain their own egg last weekend against Chivas USA. Last year the Portland Timbers caught RSL at the right time; are they catching them at the wrong time this year?
As usual we will take a look at what exactly Portland needs to do to earn that win and will do so by breaking it down by position, Defense/Goalkeeper, Midfield and Forwards.
Portland will win if: They continue to give up a low shot total. Even with a few teams having played only 2 games, Portland has given up the fewest shots in MLS. Combine this with eliminating the one defensive breakdown they seem to have every game, and they will not only win this game but will win quite a few games this season.
Portland will lose if: They continue to have multiple positions breakdown at once and allow the easy goal. Both the Dallas and the New England goals were caused by multiple breakdown in the defensive line of the Portland Timbers and if they continue to have these breakdowns Portland will continue to give up soft goals.
Portland will win if: The CMs figure out how to play with a withdrawn forward in Darlington Nagbe. With the congestion in the center of the park, Diego Chara and Captain Jack Jewsbury have seemed out of sync offensively. Part of the key to relieving the congestion in the middle of the pitch will be the addition of Franck Songo'o in the starting line-up. If Songo'o can create offensive opportunities via the wing, he will draw more attention away from the center of the pitch. Which will in turn allow Nagbe and Chara more space to operate.
Portland will lose if: They can't contain Javier Morales and his play making abilities. If Morales is given time to find RSL's attacking options Portland's defense will be under heavy pressure to not make a mistake and we all have seen what happens when they do.
Portland will win if: Kris Boyd gets service to his feet and not just his head. If Kris is getting shots on goal with his feet he will be even more dangerous than he has shown which will draw more attention from defenders. With more attention give to Boyd Nagbe, Songo'o and Kalif Alhassan will have even more free reign, which is always a good thing.
Portland will lose if: They continue to lob cross after cross into the box in hopes one of those crosses will connect. Portland needs to use Boyd and Nagbe's feet as close to the box as they can. RSL is one team who is built to win the aerial battle in the box and if Portland can't add another wrinkle to their attack they will find scoring opportunities are scarce.
The homer in me says Portland pulls it out and wins 2-0, but my head says Portland will only get a point at 1-1. Hopefully the homer in me is right.