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Real Salt Lake interim coach Pablo Mastroeni says he would be eager to stay on as Real Salt Lake boss on a permanent basis.

Mastroeni was instilled in temporary charge following Freddy Juarez’s shock departure to the Seattle Sounders.

As it stands, Mastroeni is not definitely in contention to take the job for next season, though RSL have won three of the five games he has taken charge of so far.

Asked if he wanted to stay on ahead of Saturday’s trip to face the Portland Timbers, Mastroeni said: “Yes, I would be open to that.

“For me, coaching is coaching, it doesn’t matter what your role is, you’re always learning something and you’re always growing.

“So I am looking at this new profession as a journey of love, you know, there are going to be ups and downs, there are going to be different positions, but it is all about learning and when the moment is right the opportunity will appear.”

Portland will be a stern test for RSL. Only a point separates the sides in the Western Conference, though the Timbers are on a five-game unbeaten streak, with four wins in that run.

“I think we are preparing very good for this game, we want to take care of the defense to be very organized and then to be offensive,” said Timbers defender Josecarlos Van Rankin.

“It’s good to have all the fans with us at the stadium, all the supporters, it is very motivating to see them.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland Timbers – Dairon Asprilla

Dairon Asprilla scored his sixth goal of the season in Portland’s win over Los Angeles FC last time out. He had three attempts in that game and also teed up one chance before he was subbed off just after the hour mark.

Real Salt Lake – Aaron Herrera

Aaron Herrera recorded his ninth assist of the season in RSL’s 1-0 win over Seattle on Saturday, the most of any defender in MLS this season.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– Portland has scored in 15 straight matches against RSL (including playoffs), its second-longest streak against any opponent in its MLS history (17 straight vs FC Dallas from August 2012 to March 2018).

– The Timbers have won four of their last five matches (D1) following a run of just one win in seven (D2 L4).

– The five-match unbeaten run is Portland’s longest since going six in a row without defeat in September-October last season.

– Real Salt Lake has won back-to-back matches for the third time this season. RSL hasn’t won three straight regular season games in over two years, since beating NYCFC, Sporting and Seattle in August 2019.

– Portland has lost only one of the six matches in which Sebastián Blanco has started this season, a 6-2 defeat to the Sounders in Blanco’s first start since returning from injury.

– Seattle is the only team to beat Portland in any of the last 17 matches Blanco has started, including the MLS is Back knockout stage, dating back to March 2020 (W12 D3 L2).

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