MLS Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012
(All times Eastern)
Portland (7-14-8) at Real Salt Lake (14-11-4), 8 p.m.
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
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
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
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 14:12:20 ET