Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake Second Leg: Rest vs Rust

Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Portland's home field advantage might be the extra edge they need to over come the two goal deficit.

MLS' unprecedented 14 day break between leg 1 and leg 2 has created a very unique playoff situation. The situation might be unique in the playoffs but in the regular season teams routinely have 10+ days off between games and thus we can possibly draw some conclusions as to what might happen on Sunday. In the regular Season Portland and Real Salt Lake both had four games after 9 plus days of rest and both had the same record (2-1-1) in those games.

Real Salt Lake

Of RSL's four games after 9+ days of rest three of them were on the road and surprisingly two of them were against the Seattle Sounders. See below for all the results.

Matches 7+ days Result Length off
At FC Dallas Win 2-0 10 days
RSL vs SEA Win 2-0 10 days
RSL at PTFC Tie -0-0 (no shots on goal) 14 days
RSL at Sea Loss 2-0 14 days

The 2-0 loss at Seattle is encouraging to see especially after 14 days of rest. The 0-0 tie is also encouraging because it took a tremendous effort by Nick Rimando to keep the game level and Portland held RSL to 0 shots on goal in that game.

One other amazing thing to look at is that RSL's record on short rest was 4 wins, 2 ties and only 1 loss. While not definitive the pattern might be the shorter amount of rest the better RSL plays and the longer they have to rest the more likely they are to come out flat. At least one can hope that is the case.

Portland Timbers

The Portland Timbers had the exact same record as RSL but they played 4 different teams each time they had 9+ days of rest.

PTFC matches 7+ days Length of time
PTFC at CHI Tie -2-2 10 days
PTFC at Columbus Loss 1-0 11 days
PTFC vs Dallas Win 2-1 10 days
PTFC vs LAG Win 1-0 9 days

The results are not exactly awe inspiring but do show that Portland played two of their better home games when they did have some rest between games. The 2-1 win could have been a bigger win or scoreline if it was not for two goalies who were on fire at the time. The LA win was just as meaningful as it came during the stretch run and was a dominating defensive performance.

Real Salt Lake's Biggest Losses

Something else that needs to be considered is the games in which RSL has lost by 2 goals or more, which has occurred 4 times this season. The matches were as follows:

Home Away Score
FC Dallas RSL 2 to 0
RSL LAG 0 to 2
LAG RSL 4 to 2
SEA RSL 2 to 0

RSL only lost at home once by more than 1 goal and it was against LAG all the back in April. The other three losses were all on the road and two of them came after August 17th.

Portland Timbers' Biggest Wins

The Portland Timbers have won 6 games by 2 goals or more over the course of the 2013 season.

Home Away Score
PTFC HOU 2 to 0
PTFC CHV 3 to 0
DC United PTFC 2 to 0
PTFC Colorado 3 to 0
Portland Toronto 4 to 0
CHV PTFC 5 to 0

The biggest take away is that Portland beat some weak competition but the other more important takeaway is that Portland usually did it at home. Portland has the chance to score 2+ goals against RSL, especially since they have proven three times now that they can score 2+ goals on RSL (3-3 tie, 4-2 defeat and 4-2 defeat) in 3 out of the 5 times they have played. The trick is to keep RSL from scoring against the Timbers.

Conclusion

Portland is strong at home and RSL has had some losses by more than 2 goals one the road. RSL has shown they have come out flat after a lengthy rest and this combined with Portland's play at home could mean Portland pulls off the comeback. They key to the series outcome will be when Portland scores their first goal, of course there is a big giant if that goes along with that statement. If they can score it within the first 30 minutes of the game RSL cannot bunker for 60 minutes or they runt he risk of losing by more than 2 goals.

Whatever the result on Sunday the Portland Timbers' 2013 season was a successful "rebuilding" year.

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