Return of the Nat
Over the course of his seven seasons with Real Salt Lake, Nat Borchers played 205 regular season matches with the Claret-and-Cobalt. If he features for Portland on Wednesday, it will mark his first match at Rio Tinto Stadium as a visitor. A big part of the novelty of his first match against RSL in the stadium he called home for so many years will have worn off since the two clubs already met at Providence Park in Portland, but he is sure to get a strong ovation from the home crowd nonetheless.
Thus far in 2015, Borchers has 16 starts and two goals for the Timbers. He has proven formidable as a partner for Liam Ridgewell while Portland has maintained one of the best defensive records in the Western Conference with a 1.11 goals against average.
Open Cup Fever
The match is a part of Real Salt Lake’s season ticket package and will undoubtedly draw a large crowd. That raucous crowd paired with a couple of teams with sights set on Open Cup glory could make for a charged atmosphere at Rio Tinto Stadium.
Into the Fire
Real Salt Lake has used a flurry of young players in recent weeks, with Boyd Okwuonu, Justen Glad and Phanuel Kavita all making their MLS debuts in the last two months. With key veterans out of action with injuries or on international duty, RSL Head Coach Jeff Cassar will likely utilize that youth more in upcoming matches.
Portland and Real Salt Lake have developed something of a rivalry in recent years, in large part because of their frequent meetings in 2013. In that year, the two clubs faced off six times, with three regular season bouts, an Open Cup semifinal matchup and another clash in the Western Conference Championship series.
RSL dominated the series at 4-0-2 that year, with all six matches coming after August 7. This year, they played to a scoreless draw in the first meeting at Providence Park.