The second of the Conference Finals will be played this evening as Portland visit RSL in the first leg. Hopefully we’ll push our playoff record to 5-0 this evening.
Real Salt Lake vs. Portland Timbers – (2.00am)
Portland became the first MLS side to score 5 aggregate goals in a 2 legged MLS tie since 2003 with their 5-2 win over Seattle, and these playoffs are usually tight affairs. Sporting KC drew 0-0 in Houston last night whilst RSL progressed thanks to a 2-0 win in extra time at home, after losing 1-0 away to LA Galaxy. RSL have won their last 4 home games against this opposition but Portland have never been this strong in their short 3 year MLS history.
RSL are actually unbeaten in 6 against this side, but I just don’t feel like they should be clear favourites this evening. Front man Alvaro Sabario will miss the game which will leave Plata and Findley in attack, which isn’t a physical strike force. Portland held the longest unbeaten run on the road in MLS this season, going from opening day in March to July 7th without a road loss, and a big part of that was down to the best goal keeper in the league, Donovan Ricketts.
Rickets often stands on his head when Portland are on the road and he’s definitely going to be given some work this evening, but I can’t see RSL having success similar to they have so far against this Portland back 3. Set pieces and crosses caused LA problems in both legs, and without the height of Sabario, RSL are going to have to play some good stuff to get behind this counter attacking outfit. RSL seem far too vulnerable to me to attack openly and not concede, especially with Beckerman potentially missing the next leg if RSL’s CDM is booked. Form and trends can often just go out the window in the MLS Playoffs. I Just think Portland are capable of a 0-0 or a 1-1 here.
Portland Timbers +0.5 @ 1.80 with Pinnacle