RSL heads to Portland with two-goal lead

6:04 PM, Nov 22, 2013   |    comments
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Portland, OR ( - The Portland Timbers will take on Real Salt Lake in the second leg of their Western Conference final tie at Jeld-Wen Field on Sunday with a sizeable margin to overturn.

Portland suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to Salt Lake in the opening leg at Rio Tinto Stadium two weeks ago, meaning that the Timbers will need to be the first team in 10 years to overturn a two-goal deficit in the second leg of a total-goals series if they wish to reach MLS Cup.

But the situation could be far more dire as the club was facing a three-goal deficit until Frederic Piquionne netted a late goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time in the opening leg.

"I think that last goal was big, really big, because I think it gave us a little bit of life knowing that now we only need two goals and that, for our team, meant a lot," said Timbers head coach Caleb Porter. "We know we are capable of that. And for their team, to some extent, probably that rattles them a little bit and gets them thinking."

The Timbers can still feel confident heading into the return match on home soil where they produced an impressive 11-1-5 record during the regular season.

"We're capable of going to another level and turning it up a notch where we can score goals," Porter said. "We've shown that this year. ... Obviously I wouldn't have scripted it this way, this is not the way we wanted it to be. Obviously we were disappointed with the last game, but we know what we need to do."

Portland's strong home form and Real Salt Lake's worrisome road record of 6-7-4 during the regular season indicates that Sunday's second leg is far from over, and RSL head coach Jason Kreis recognizes that his side will not be able to sit back and coast into its second MLS Cup in five seasons.

"We're not going to be able to go there and sit back and just have a laugh for 90 minutes," Kreis said. "We're going to have to go there and work. We've still got 90 minutes of work to do if we want to advance."

Salt Lake has fared well against Portland this season, going 2-0-2 against the Rose City club in regular season and postseason play thus far while managing to score 11 goals.

But given the similar styles of play that the two teams adopt, it could just be a matter of time before Portland finds a bit more success against its Western Conference rival.

"I think that we both play a similar style. There's been much made of that, and I think it's true," said Kreis. "I think we both want to set the tempo of the match. I think we both want to press. I think we both want to be aggressive in our play. And that opens up space to counterattack into."

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