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August 21, 2013 11:00 PM EDT
Providence Park — Portland, Oregon
Referee:‬ R. Salazar‎
Attendance:‬ 20674‎

MLS Preview: Portland Timbers - Real Salt Lake

The two Western Conference powers clash for the first of two rapid-fire meetings after RSL took their U.S. Open Cup semifinal encounter.

By Avi Creditor

Portland Timbers
Doug Pensinger
After months of staying out of each other's paths, the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake are getting quite familiar with one another.

Following a U.S. Open Cup semifinal bout won by Real Salt Lake, two of the top teams in the Western Conference meet for the first time in league play -- the first of two meetings in a nine-day span -- at Jeld-Wen Field Wednesday night.

RSL, coming off a 4-2 loss to the LA Galaxy, leads the West and the race for the Supporters' Shield, and boasts bragging rights from eliminating the Timbers to reach the Open Cup final. Portland, however, is just three points off the pace with two games in hand, and is tied with the Montreal Impact with an MLS-best 1.65 points per game.

Both sides will be missing their captains for the vital meeting. Real Salt Lake midfield anchor and U.S. national team member Kyle Beckerman is suspended because of card accumulation, while former RSL midfielder and current Portland skipper Will Johnson is out with a shoulder injury suffered in the 2-1 Open Cup loss at Rio Tinto Stadium.

Both teams boast the midfield depth to overcome the key absences, with Yordany Alvarez coming off a three-game suspension at an ideal time for RSL manager Jason Kreis and Portland manager Caleb Porter likely to turn again to Ben Zemanski as he did in the club's 2-1 victory over FC Dallas last weekend.

In Wednesday's match, RSL will be looking to avoid piling up consecutive losses for the second time in as many months -- and all season. Conversely, Portland, despite its success in 2013, will be looking to accumulate consecutive wins for just the second time all season. The Timbers last accomplished the feat in April, with back-to-back wins over Houston and San Jose. Since then, the club is 0-1-5 in games following a victory.

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Head to Head
USA - Major League Soccer ‎(MLS)‎ Nov 24, 2013 Portland Timbers 0 - Real Salt Lake 1
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USA - Major League Soccer ‎(MLS)‎ Nov 10, 2013 Real Salt Lake 4 - Portland Timbers 2
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USA - Major League Soccer ‎(MLS)‎ Oct 19, 2013 Portland Timbers 0 - Real Salt Lake 0
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USA - Major League Soccer ‎(MLS)‎ Aug 30, 2013 Real Salt Lake 4 - Portland Timbers 2
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USA - Major League Soccer ‎(MLS)‎ Aug 21, 2013 Portland Timbers 3 - Real Salt Lake 3
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1Donovan RickettsGoalkeeper
5Michael HarringtonDefender
-Mobi FehrDefender
16Andrew-Jean BaptisteDefender
44Pa-Modou KahDefender
8Diego ValeriMidfielder
14Ben ZemanskiMidfielder
21Diego Ferney CharáMidfielder
6Darlington NagbeStriker
22Rodney WallaceDefender
-Ryan JohnsonDefender
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-Ryan MillerDefender
31Rauwshan McKenzieDefender
11Salvatore ZizzoMidfielder
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15Steven EvansMidfielder
20A. ValenciaStriker
24Jeff AttinellaGoalkeeper
2Tony Beltran Defender
6Nat BorchersDefender
17Chris WingertDefender
14Brandon McDonaldDefender
11Javier MoralesMidfielder
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20Ned GrabavoyMidfielder
9Khari StephensonMidfielder
8Joao PlataStriker
10Robbie FindleyStriker
1E. FernándezMidfielder
29K. MansallyStriker
5Lovel PalmerMidfielder
12Nicholas GrossmanMidfielder
21Luis GilMidfielder
13Olmes Fernando García FlórezStriker
49Devon SandovalStriker
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