RSL tries to clinch playoff berth against Portland
Sandy, UT (Sports Network) - Real Salt Lake hasn't been in top form recently, but the club can still clinch a postseason berth for the fifth straight season with a win over the Portland Timbers at Rio Tinto Stadium on Saturday.
Salt Lake enters the contest having lost four of its last six games in league play, which has dropped the team into a third-place tie with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
But with five games to play, Jason Kreis and his team will be trying to position themselves to make a deep playoff run, and it starts with the return to form of key defender Jamison Olave.
The 2010 MLS Defender of the Year returned to the RSL lineup for the first time in two months on Tuesday in CONCACAF Champions League play as the club secured a 1-0 win over Tauro.
After the match Kreis talked about how important Olave is to the team, and how far he still has to go to regain full match fitness.
"Olave is an extremely important players for us," said Kreis following the game. "I think he was one of the players out there that looked the most fatigued in my eyes, which is typical. It was his first game back, his first time to play 90 minutes in I think over two months, so it is going to take some time to build his soccer fitness where he can be effective and 100 percent for 90 minutes."
While Kreis was pleased to welcome Olave back into the fold, he will likely be without leading scorer Alvaro Saborio for close to a month after he sustained a sprained shoulder in Tuesday's win.
Saborio has tallied 14 goals in 28 league games and his absence will pile more pressure on fellow striker Fabian Espindola, who is second on the team with six goals.
The Timbers will hit the road again in search of their first win away from home after a 2-2 draw at San Jose on Wednesday.
Portland took a 2-0 lead into the final 20 minutes of the match, but San Jose's Chris Wondolowski scored twice, including the equalizer in stoppage time, to deny the Timbers.
One bright spot for Portland was the play of forward Danny Mwanga, who in his first 22 games this season for Philadelphia and the Timbers scored just one goal.
But his two-goal effort on Wednesday showed that the 21-year-old might be starting to adjust to life with his new side.
"Whenever you come to a new team, there are a lot of new things going on and you have to adjust, not only physically and mentally," Mwanga said. "Not playing as much gets to your head, but I was just trying to do my best and stay positive and the coaching staff did a good job of talking to me. I feel really good and hopefully I keep playing well."
09/21 14:14:45 ET