Portland Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese hailed the unity of his squad as they look to arrest a three-game winless streak.
The underperforming Timbers suffered two damaging defeats on the bounce but drew 1-1 with San Jose Earthquakes on Wednesday.
Portland are eighth in he Western Conference, though a win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday would see them leapfrog above their opponents.
“We had good conversations, we had a good few days to practice, to get ready,” Savarese said after the San Jose match.
“There were some things we had to address but the good thing is we have a united group, a good group, we knew that by sticking together we would get back to who we are and we showed that, a very strong performance, in every area we improved.
“The only thing we missed was the three points because everything else was there. Overall, a tremendous performance.”
RSL head into Saturday’s meeting on the back of a 1-0 defeat to LA Galaxy, though midfielder Damir Kreilach is sure to be buoyed, given his call up to the MLS All-Star squad.
“Without my teammates I wouldn’t be named to the All-Star team,” said the 32-year-old Croatian, who has scored seven goals so far in 2021.
“For myself, I am proud. It’s an honor and I’m very happy to participate and represent RSL in a way that RSL deserves.
“Honestly, I’ve played the best year so far in my career. Just because of that, my age doesn’t mean a lot to me.
“You can be young, you can be old. But as long as you put effort in for every session, if you prepare yourself and put 100 per cent in for every game, that’s how I want to live and enjoy the most beautiful game in the world.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Portland Timbers – Felipe Mora
Felipe Mora scored for the third time in four games with a goal against San Jose on Wednesday.
Real Salt Lake – Zac MacMath
Goalkeeper Zac MacMath made seven saves against the Galaxy, which is the most saves MacMath has made in an MLS match since he made seven for the Vancouver Whitecaps in September of 2019 against Columbus.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– In his last 22 regular season starts, RSL’s MacMath has recorded just two wins (W2 D11 L9).
– Portland’s Mora had only scored in one of his previous 16 matches for Portland in all competitions with a brace against the Galaxy earlier this year.
– After a playoff win in Portland in 2013, Real Salt Lake has won just one of its last eight matches at the Timbers (D4 L3). Still, RSL is unbeaten in its last three against Portland (W2 D1) with both wins coming at Rio Tinto Stadium.
– Portland maintained possession for 58.5 percent of its 1-1 draw against San Jose on Wednesday. That is the highest percentage of possession the Timbers have had in a match since September 2019 against the New York Red Bulls, a gap of 42 regular season matches.
– After being held scoreless twice in its 14 matches, Real Salt Lake has failed to score in either of its last two games with a 1-0 loss to LA Galaxy and a 0-0 draw with Houston. RSL is looking to avoid being shut out for three consecutive matches since May of 2017.