Portland Timbers boss Giovanni Savarese says his side must approach the visit of Real Salt Lake as a “completely new game” following their draw with Houston Dynamo last time out in MLS.

The Oregon outfit welcome their visitors from Utah this weekend, looking to book back a return to winning ways.

Savarese has stressed that in order to do so though, his players must ensure that they detach themselves from past results, and focus on the here and now.

“This is a completely new game,” he stated. “This is a game in which we need to be well-prepared to put a very good performance (in) at home. As always, when you play at home, you have to make sure that you go for the three points.

“We just have to make sure that we enter into this match with the mentality ready to get the three points. There’s been many good things we’ve done in the past few games, and there’s areas where we just have to make sure we improve.”

Opposite number Pablo Mastroeni meanwhile discussed the need to enforce a turnaround in form for his own squad following a rough run of results, including an Open Cup exit in midweek to minnows Northern Colorado Hailstorm.

“We don’t have depth at the moment, as we continue to get players back,” he stated. (But it’s never) a lack of effort.

“It’s chemistry, it’s clicking, it’s belief with this group, it’s all those things that we have when we went on that three-game winning streak that we need to find again. The onus is on us.”

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Portland – Claudio Bravo

You can’t fault the Timbers man for his efforts in winning back the ball. No player can come close to him for tackles won this season, with 25 to his name – five clear of any other player in MLS this term.

Salt Lake – Pablo Ruiz

If anyone can give Bravo a run for his money however, it will be Real’s Ruiz, who sits second behind him on the list for successful tacklers. He’s won 20, five below his opponent, but still with enough comfortable daylight to third-place.

KEY OPTA FACTS

– The Timbers won all four matches against Real Salt Lake in 2021, including in the Western Conference Final, by a combined 14-4. Portland became the second team in the last 15 seasons to play a team four or more times (incl. playoffs) in a season and win every meeting after LA Galaxy vs. Seattle in 2010 (P4 W4).

– The Timbers lost their last home match, 3-1, to the Galaxy on April 3, ending an eight-match unbeaten run at Providence Park including last season’s playoffs (W5, D3, including a penalty shootout loss). The Timbers haven’t lost two in a row at home since September 2019.

– Real Salt Lake equaled the largest margin of defeat in the club’s MLS history in a 6-0 loss at New York City FC on Sunday. It was the fifth time RSL has allowed six goals in a match in MLS, and the first since a 6-1 loss at Portland last September.

– Sebastián Blanco has a career-high seven goals and a career-high seven assists against Real Salt Lake in his MLS career (including playoffs). No other player has more goal contributions against a single team than Blanco’s 14 against RSL since he entered MLS in 2017.

– Three of the six goals Real Salt Lake conceded against New York City FC on Sunday were on set plays (2 penalties, 1 corner). Only league-worst San Jose (7) has conceded more set piece goals than RSL (6, tied with Columbus and Montreal) in 2022.