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Storylines: Real Salt Lake vs Portland Timbers

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The Timbers continue the march to the playoffs with a stop in Sandy, Utah.

MLS: Real Salt Lake at Portland Timbers Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

The Timbers continued to roll as they beat New York City FC 1-0 in Yankee Stadium over the weekend. Diego Valeri continued his tear, scoring his 7th goal in as many matches, tying a Major League Soccer record.

Results even went the Timbers way all weekend and they spent a few days at the top of the table, but now the Whitecaps occupy the top spot in the Western Conference with their win last night against Minnesota United.

Now the Timbers head off to Sandy, Utah to take on Real Salt Lake. Despite a recent upswing of results, they’ll be looking to put their 2-3 loss to Vancouver behind them and trying to right the ship at home with a win. Can the Timbers keep moving towards the top of the table, or will RSL play spoiler?

Reverse Flash

The last time these two teams met was at Providence Park where the Timbers got hammered 4-1 and saw Fanendo Adi and Victor Arboleda sent off. It was the first time in 9 matchups that Real Salt Lake was able to beat the Timbers, and it was a horrible game from start to finish for the Timbers. That match at least served as a wake-up call for the boys in green and gold, and they have been on a good run since.

Both teams are in different places now than when they faced off in July. The Timbers are 4-1-1 in their last six, and RSL is 3-2-1 in theirs, so both are coming into this matchup on a good run of form. However, there is still drama when it comes to Real Salt Lake as they try to salvage a season. Right now they’re only two points out of a playoff spot with 35 points.

Drama for your mama

There’s been a lot of drama this season at RSL, from their coach getting fired to their multimillion dollar DP Yura Movsisyan being on the outs with the club. According to our sister site RSL Soapbox, he’s been on the outs with the club since Mike Petke took over. He almost left the team during the transfer window with a destination of Sparta Prague.

He just made his first start in 7 matches against Vancouver, though he was just filling in for an injured Luis Silva. RSL Soapbox’s thinking is that he may have just started his last match for Real Salt Lake. It’s apparent that the Movsisyan era is coming to an end, and I would be very surprised if he remained on the roster after the season ends.

By The Numbers: 99, 44 & 6

With the season starting the home stretch, it’s time to look at some numbers. According to FiveThirtyEight the Timbers have a 99% chance of reaching the playoffs - which no matter how you slice it a nice number to have.

There will be playoff football for Soccer City U.S.A., and that’s where the 44% kicks in - that’s the probability that the Timbers will receive a first round playoff bye; which would be a nice thing to have to allow those who are still injured time to get fit before PTFC begins its playoff campaign.

And finally, we come to 6%: the probability of the Timbers winning MLS Cup. It’s slim but we still have a chance. Right now it’s time to buckle down and get to the playoffs without losing any more players; and as cliche as it sounds, right now it’s about one match at a time.

- All Stats From FiveThirtyEight.com

Bury Me In Green And Gold

The Whitecaps now occupy the top spot in the West - only because of a better goal differential. Really, it’s a four way battle for the top seed with just five matches to play. To say the West is a crapshoot is an understatement.

All the Timbers need to do is take care of business. Running the table would be nice, with a 15-point take - but I’m not going to hold my breath on that. I’m just trying to be a bit realistic with my expectations of the club. This club still has some issues, but the back line seems to be gelling and working more as a unit than as individuals.

Will wrote a great piece on the playoff picture for the Timbers; if you haven’t read it yet, I highly suggest you do so.

We’ve still got injury issues as of this writing. Still listed as questionable are Liam Ridgewell, Fanendo Adi, and Jake Gleeson. Still out are Barmby, Myers, and Farfan. With no timetable for their return, the Timbers will continue to rely on the players they do have healthy. Personally, I’d call it a season on at least Ridgewell. There’s no way he’s 90 minutes fit, and I think his return would hamper the defense more than shore it up.

What happens when Gleeson get’s healthy? Does Caleb Porter ride the hot hand into the playoffs or does he go back to Gleeson? Personally, I think you’ve gotta ride it out with Jeff Attinella. A goalkeeping change this close to the playoffs would be ill advised - not to mention I think Gleeson has more issues than just his injury.

Poll

Who should the Timbers go with if both are healthy?

This poll is closed

  • 90%
    Jeff Attinella
    (295 votes)
  • 9%
    Jake Gleeson
    (31 votes)
326 votes total Vote Now