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For the fifth time in just over three months, Real Salt Lake and Portland will meet again.
Didn't Jason Kreis warn us about this?
Entering Week 34, Real Salt Lake's head coach was well aware there was a foundation being laid for another intense MLS rivalry. Scott Pierce reported the story on MLS' official website:
To play the same opponent in really important matches is what starts rivalries. That's why we're where we are with Seattle after playing them in the playoffs so many times in a row...Really stressful matches that mean something. Somebody taking the lead in the conference at that time or an Open Cup game.
Fast forward a few weeks.
The Timbers and Real Salt Lake are set to do battle...for a fifth time. According to Portland's official website, head coach Caleb Porter is confident in the matchup and his tactics:
I think we match up well. The nice thing is that we played Seattle and they play a diamond. So we're really in a rhythm playing basically a similar system. I think that's a real key in a quick turnaround. There's not a ton of tactical changes that we're going to have to make. A lot of the same things we will want to exploit against Salt Lake are things we wanted to exploit against Seattle. I think our guys will also have a lot of confidence knowing we just faced a really talented team in Seattle playing a diamond and now we go face another really talented team playing a diamond. The last time we played Salt Lake, I thought we played very well against them. It was a 0-0 draw, it wasn't a win, but I don't think they had a shot on goal. I think that was a real positive performance. Now we just need to get the attack cranked up versus them.
But the scorelines aren't as confident, Coach Porter.
The Timbers failed to capture a victory in four previous encounters with RSL (0-2-2). The club was even eliminated from the U.S. Open Cup following a 2-1 loss at Rio Tinto Stadium.
The stakes are even higher in the conference finals.
Look for both teams to "crank up" more than the attack with a trip to the MLS Cup final on the line.
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