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Portland Timbers fans, known as the"Timbers Army", watch their season opener against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of their MLS soccer game in Portland, Ore., Monday, March 12, 2012.(AP Photo/Don Ryan)
MLS: Real Salt Lake begins busy week in Portland
First Published Mar 30 2012 07:14 pm • Last Updated Mar 31 2012 12:34 am

Draper • Jamison Olave folded onto the turf at Juan Diego Catholic High School on Friday during Real Salt Lake’s final practice before playing at Portland on Saturday. Trainers rushed over to tend to his knee.

Coach Jason Kreis twice tore his ACL playing on turf and, he said, he’s more acutely aware of injuries that might happen on the artificial surface, such as the one at Portland’s Jeld-Wen Field. When a player goes down on turf, he said, he cringes. These days, however, the coach may simply be more sensitive to injuries overall.

At a glance

Good news, bad news for RSL vs. Portland

» While Jason Kreis would not divulge his lineup plans for Portland, Alvaro Saborio, Javier Morales, Nat Borchers and Will Johnson could each make his first start of the season Saturday.

» RSL lost 1-0 at Portland last season and settled for a 1-1 draw at home six months later.

Real Salt Lake at Portland

At Jeld-Wen Field, Portland, Ore.

Kickoff » 8 p.m. MDT

TV » Ch. 4

Radio » 700 AM, 102.3 FM

Records » RSL 2-1-0, Portland 1-1-1

About RSL » Coming off their first loss of the season, they’re aiming to win their second straight road game, following the season-opener at Los Angeles. … Forward Fabian Espindola leads the team with two goals, but forward Alvaro Saborio is the only player who scored against the Timbers in two games last season. … Midfielder Will Johnson is questionable to return after recovering from sports-hernia surgery, but defender Nat Borchers is expected to make his season debut after recovering from offseason knee surgery. … It’s playing the first of three games in seven days.

About the Timbers » Now in their second season, they’re hoping to avoid falling behind for the third straight game. … New designated player Kris Boyd is one of four players who each have scored once so far, including midfielders Kalif Alhassan and Darlington Nagbe and defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste. … Defender Hanyer Mosquera is out with a concussion and fractured facial bone. … Coach John Spencer is a former MLS Best XI player who played for the Colorado Rapids along with RSL’s Kyle Beckerman and Nat Borchers.

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Kreis said there was no reason to worry about Olave, which comes as a welcome relief. RSL (2-1-0) can ill afford to lose any player, as a few stars are on the verge of returning fully from injuries.

The team begins on Saturday a stretch of three games in seven days, a schedule that is expected to let Kreis ease stars Javier Morales, Nat Borchers, Alvaro Saborio and Will Johnson back into the mix.

Those players are all coming back from injury; Saborio and Morales are looking for their first starts, Borchers and Johnson their first appearances of the season.

RSL is coming off a 1-0 home loss to Chivas USA last week, and midfielder Kyle Beckerman said RSL would benefit from the returns of traditional leaders.

"Hopefully, we can get them all in and get them some minutes this weekend and in these next couple of games," Beckerman said.

"And then hopefully no setbacks. This would be a good time to get those guys back and also not have to push them super hard, because we have some young players that gained experience."

Johnson and Borchers both said Friday they feel healthy enough to play. Johnson played 73 minutes in a reserve match Tuesday in Chicago, less than a month after undergoing surgery for a groin strain. Borchers played two reserve games this spring and was on the roster for the loss to Chivas.

"I’m really excited to get in, whichever game it may be," Borchers said. "It’s been a long road to get healthy and this is the best I’ve felt yet."

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story continues below

After playing the Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on Saturday, RSL will host Montreal on Wednesday, and Colorado next Saturday. Salt Lake remains winless against Portland, after losing in Portland last spring during the Timbers’ inaugural MLS season, then settling for a draw at home in the regular-season finale.

After RSL failed to earn a point against Chivas, Portland does not present an easy opportunity for recovery.

"It’s always going to be hard to play there," Beckerman said. "It’s a great stadium, it’s a great place to play. It will be great. It’s going to be fun and no matter where they’re sitting in the standings — they could be in last place, they could be in first place — it’s going to be a tough game."

Michael C. Lewis contributed to this report.


Twitter: @oramb

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