Matchday Preview: Timbers look to build momentum against RSL at RioT
Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers meet for the second time this season when the Western Conference clubs face off Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real are looking to put an end to a four-game winless run, coming off a scoreless draw at home with Seattle Sounders FC at midweek. The Timbers are back on the road after extending their home unbeaten streak with a 2-1 win against West leaders San Jose Earthquakes, also at midweek.
The Portland Timbers returned home and extended their undefeated streak at JELD-WEN Field to six games, holding on for a 2-1 win against the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday evening. The Timbers are in a tie for seventh place in the Western Conference with 19 points from 16 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: Timbers shutdown SJ in 2-1 win
- The Timbers took the lead on 29 minutes. From a counterattack, Franck Songo'o delivered a perfect cross from the right wing to a charging Danny Mwanga, and the hometown hero chipped in past Quakes goalkeeper David Bingham for his first goal for Portland.
- Portland doubled their lead in the 59th minute. Under pressure from Mamadou 'Futty' Danso while trying to reach a Songo'o free kick, Bingham wasn't able to secure the ball. Jack Jewsbury pounced and slid in to prod it over the line before Bingham could recover.
- The Quakes once again hit for a late goal. Alan Gordon redirected a long shot by Marvin Chavez past Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins in the 74th minute to cut the deficit, but this time they could not come all the way back.
- Timbers head coach John Spencer made three changes to the side that went down to a 3-0 defeat by the Colorado Rapids at Dick's Sporting Goods Park. Lovel Palmer and Eric Alexander came into the midfield in place of Sal Zizzo and the suspended Diego Chara, and Danny Mwanga started up top in place of Mike Fucito.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Jack Jewsbury, David Horst, Mamadou Danso, Steven Smith (Mike Chabala 63) - Franck Songo'o (Sal Zizzo 74), Lovel Palmer (Freddie Braun 86), Darlington Nagbe, Eric Alexander - Kris Boyd, Danny Mwanga.
PREVIEW: Timbers prep for RSL
It was a second consecutive home victory for the Timbers, and extended their Jeld-Wen Field unbeaten run to six league games (4-0-2).
"We've got to be more consistent with that. We can't just do it at home. A special group of guys. They keep believing in each other as much as we believe in them," Timbers head coach John Spencer said. "You've got to work that way home and away. There's no easy games. You can make the games easier by out-working the opponents, and we made it a little bit easier on ourselves tonight going 2-0 up."
Making his second start for the Timbers since his acquisition from Philadelphia, his fourth appearance in as many chances, Danny Mwanga scored his first goal with his new club, his first of 2012 and first since June 25 of last season.
"I said to Mwanga, you've got to have that ruthlessness in your makeup, not be looking to set someone else up. When you get into the box, when you get into the danger zone, you've got to become a different animal, so to see him coming across, movement was excellent, and a great, great finish," said Spencer. "How could you not want to celebrate in front of the Timbers Army?"
Said Mwanga: "It's one of the best feelings ever, seeing all the fans jumping up and down and chanting. It just feels great. Just being able to do it in front of the fans, you really feel a part of something. Seeing how the people support you it really gives you motivation to keep working harder and harder to make those people proud."
The Timbers had a season-high 19 attempts at goal vs. San Jose. Jack Jewsbury scored his first goal of the season as well.
"A lot of people had questions for us after the poor performance in Colorado. We wanted to prove to ourselves and everyone else that we had the fight in us tonight, because we knew against them that it was going to be a battle," Jack Jewsbury said. "It wasn't going to be the prettiest game in the world. We fought from minute one and deserved the result."
While the Timbers have gone six games without a clean sheet, they have allowed just a single goal in five of those contests.
"I thought when we're under pressure, guys that don't usually defend as hard defended with everything they had. Showed a lot of character, a lot of guts, and a tremendous, tremendous win," said Spencer. "Probably one of the most satisfying wins we've had here as a coaching staff."
Franck Songo'o recorded his second assist in the last three games, then came off in the 74th minute. "We don't sub players because we don't like them," Spencer said. "We sub players because they don't play well. He got subbed tonight because he was injured, but I thought quality-wise on the ball he was head and shoulders above anyone on the field."
"I wasn't happy coming out, with the two goals coming from my side," Songo'o said. "I wanted to prove to my teammates that I could do better. I came out, everyone did, we played as a great team."
- On Thursday, the Timbers acquired fullback Kosuke Kimura from the Colorado Rapids for allocation money and an international roster spot. In six seasons with Colorado, Kimura played 117 regular season games (starting 109), scoring four goals and adding eight assists.
REAL SALT LAKE
Real Salt Lake had their winless streak extended to four matches, reaching a scoreless draw with Seattle Sounders FC on Wednesday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium. Real sit in second place in the Western Conference with 33 points from 19 games.
HIGHLIGHTS: RSL, Sounders go scoreless in Seattle
- Sounders FC goalkeeper Bryan Meredith was credited with two saves on the evening and was beaten in the 52nd minute as striker Alvaro Saborio hit the back of the net following a ball to the middle, but the goal was ruled out for offside.
- Real goalkeeper Nick Rimando was called upon to make one save for the match.
- RSL head coach Jason Kreis made four changes to the team that fell to a 2-0 defeat to the Columbus Crew at Crew Stadium. Kenny Mansally and Kwame Watson-Siriboe made their RSL debuts, coming into the back four for Terukazu Tanaka and Tony Beltran, and Kyle Beckerman and Luis Gil came back into the midfield, in place of Jonny Steele and Yordany Alvarez.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Kenny Mansally (Jonny Steele 79), Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert - Will Johnson, Kyle Beckerman, Luis Gil (Ned Grabavoy 62) - Javier Morales - Fabian Espindola, Alvaro Saborio.
Mansally, Watson-Siriboe on joining RSL
Real were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since last Oct. 6 (a 3-0 loss at Vancouver) and Oct. 14 (a scoreless draw at Colorado).
"We kept the ball OK," said midfielder Will Johnson, "we just didn't play enough penetrating passes between the lines to get in behind their lines. That was the frustrating part. We did a lot of getting it side to side and moving it, but as far as dangerous forward [progress], penetrating passes and quick turns to slip Fabian [Espindola] and Sabo [¡lvaro Saborio] and Javi [Morales], that part of things has to get a little bit better."
RSL recorded a shutout after conceding multiple goals in three consecutive games. It was their first clean sheet since June 16.
"I feel a little bit sad for them that they couldn't walk out with all three points," said RSL head coach Jason Kreis. "A different night maybe we finish one or two of those chances, but we're looking for positives in this game -- that's our first shutout in a long time, and we're still, I think, controlling the rhythm of the game, being the aggressors like we need to at home."
Kenny Mansally, acquired following his waiving by the New England Revolution, made RSL debut. The majority of his 89 previous appearances had come as a wide midfielder -- or even a striker -- but he played the full match at left back, his primary position with the Gambian national team.
"Kenny's been with us now a couple of weeks and we've had a couple of times to work with him individually so I felt like he was really ready for his opportunity and the past couple of days he has been very sharp in training so I was excited to see him go out tonight and I think he proved us right a little bit. He was good, very good," said Kreis.
Kwame Watson-Siriboe also made his RSL debut after he was picked up in a trade with the Chicago Fire.
"He's a guy that's only been with us a week and because we've had so many games he really hasn't had a full training session so we rolled the dice a little on that one and I think he came clean as well," said Kreis.
Tony Beltran was not available -- not included in the 18-man gameday roster -- and missed a league match for the first time this season.
"He picked up a slight groin injury in Columbus," said Kreis. "He wanted to play but we chose to take a more cautious approach and do everything we can to hopefully have him ready for Saturday."
Jamison Olave missed a third consecutive match after suffering a calf strain in the June 20 match vs. the LA Galaxy.
- "If you have a shutout you have to consider doing things the same way. Obviously we have some special players in Olave and Beltran, and if they were to come healthy they're probably going to get a little more consideration because of how long they have been here," said Kreis. "But it won't be an easy choice, and that's what we need. We need players to come in and make a statement for themselves and really make the decisions for us difficult."
REFEREE: Mark Geiger. SAR (bench): Sean Hurd; JAR (opposite): Jeremy Hanson; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 98 games; FC/gm: 26.3; Y/gm: 3.7; R: 22; pens: 32
- REAL SALT LAKE -- OUT: DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone stress response); PROBABLE: MF Javier Morales (R knee hyperextension); DF Nat Borchers (L quadriceps strain); DF Tony Beltran (L adductor spasm); DF Jamison Olave (R calf strain); MF Ned Grabavoy (L adductor strain); DF Kenny Mansally (R shoulder separation)
- PORTLAND TIMBERS -- OUT: DF Eric Brunner (concussion); GK Jake Gleeson (R elbow sprain); MF Franck Songo’o (R knee MCL sprain); DF Rodney Wallace (R ankle sprain); PROBABLE: DF Steve Purdy (L groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED: RSL: Fabian Espindola (caution accumulation; through July 8)
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Alvaro Saborio
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Jonny Steele, Chris Wingert ... POR: Kris Boyd, Lovel Palmer, Jack Jewsbury
ALL-TIME (3 meetings): Real Salt Lake 1 win, 4 goals ... Timbers 1 win, 4 goals ... Ties 1
AT SALT LAKE (1 meeting): Real Salt Lake 0 wins, 1 goal ... Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal ... Ties 1
FUTURE MATCH: 9/22: Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers, 6 p.m. MT (NBC SN)
- Real won the first meeting between the clubs this season in a thriller, Jonny Steele scoring in the 89th minute then Kyle Beckerman hitting for the winner in stoppage time in a 3-2 RSL victory, March 31 in Portland.
- Portland went undefeated vs. Real Salt Lake in two meetings in their inaugural MLS season, winning 1-0 at Jeld-Wen Field and reaching a 1-1 draw at Rio Tinto Stadium.
- Coaches record: Jason Kreis vs. POR: P3 W1 L1 D1 ... John Spencer vs. RSL: P2 W1 L1 D1
LAST MEETING (MLS)
3/31: RSL 3, POR 2 (Saborio 39; Steele 89; Beckerman 93+ -- Nagbe 48, 65)
- RSL took the lead late in the first half. Portland's Rodney Wallace was whistled for a handball in the area by referee Jorge Gonzalez made the call, and Alvaro Saborio beat goalkeeper Troy Perkins with the resulting penalty.
- Nagbe then pulled Portland level three minutes after the halftime break. Just inside the area, he received a perfectly placed pass from Eric Alexander, sidestepped RSL's Kyle Beckerman and looped a low shot past RSL goalkeeper Nick Rimando.
- Then in the 66th minute, Alexander found Nagbe again, this time at the top of the area on the left side. The second-year player juggled once and volleyed a dipping strike between two defenders and past the outstretched hands of goalkeeper Nick Rimando, under the crossbar.
- But Real silenced the sell-out crowd in the 89th minute, when Jonny Steele skipped his way through a host of Timbers defenders in the area and placed a left-footed shot past Perkins.
- And then, three minutes into stoppage time, Beckerman completed the comeback. Fabian Espindola found room on the left side and stabbed a cross to the top of the box. Beckerman struck a full volley from the top of the box straight into the bottom left corner of the net for the shocking game-winner.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Lovel Palmer, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace - Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara (James Marcelin 76), Eric Alexander - Jorge Perlaza (Franck Songo'o 64), Kris Boyd.
- REAL SALT LAKE (4-3-1-2): Nick Rimando - Tony Beltran (Jonny Steele 78), Jamison Olave, Nat Borchers, Chris Wingert -- Luis Gil (Will Johnson 59), Kyle Beckerman, Ned Grabavoy - Javier Morales - Paulo Junior (Fabian Espindola 70), Alvaro Saborio.