Timbers-Real Salt Lake Preview
As the Portland Timbers' extended opening road stretch continues, at least they are starting to build some momentum.
The Timbers eye a third consecutive victory Saturday night when they visit Real Salt Lake.
Portland (2-5-1) knew a 12-game road stretch to the open the 2019 season while its home park undergoes renovation was going to be quite the challenge, and it's been rough for the most part. However, consecutive victories over Columbus and Toronto FC have the Timbers finally feeling good about things and comfortable with their current situation as road warriors.
"This is the Portland Timbers that we know," coach Giovanni Sevarese told the team's official website. "With the spirit, with the mentality, with the heart, with the sacrifice within the field."
The Timbers, who last won three straight on the road during the 2015 campaign, have totaled five goals in their two victories after posting six in the first six contests. Bill Tuiloma's highlight-reel goal in the 22nd minute equalized after Toronto took a 1-0 lead last Saturday, and Jeremy Ebobisse's score in the 70th paved the way for Portland's 2-1 victory.
"I think it was a tenacious performance from the guys," said Ebobisse, who has a goal in two straight contests and four on the year. "Obviously, to go down 1-0 early in the game, we could have put our heads down. With (the last two games), we've seen a little more tenacity and togetherness within the group."
The Timbers hope to maintain that kind of form against Real Salt Lake (3-5-1), which fell short of a third consecutive win with Sunday's 2-1 loss at the Galaxy. Donny Toia managed to equalize for RSL in the 64th minute, but L.A. would ultimately claim all three points after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's go-ahead goal on 78 minutes.
"Obviously not the result we wanted, but we'll try and learn from this and move on," veteran midfielder Kyle Beckerman told Real Salt Lake's official website.
The good news for Salt Lake is that it will play three of the next four at home, where it's 2-1-0 this season. RSL, however, is 1-4-1 against Portland at home in league play since winning five straight there in the series.
Salt Lake's Albert Rusnak has a team-leading four goals this season, but just two - both coming in one game - over his last six contests. He has two goals in four career MLS matches versus Portland.
Updated May 2, 2019