MLS regular-season action returns to Providence Park for just the third time this season, as Portland Timbers look to bounce back from defeat by getting the better of a Real Salt Lake side who picked up an encouraging win last time out (10.30pm ET Saturday).
Read our Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake predictions with full match preview, before USAbetting ends with our betting picks suggestions.
Things couldn’t have gone any better for Portland at the MLS Is Back Tournament in Florida, as they won two out of three in the groups, before going all the way in the knockouts, beating Orlando in the final. Such a run of form meant that Giovanni Savarese’s men went into their first regular season match in over four months as warm favorites. Unfortunately, it was a move in the wrong direction, as Seattle rolled into a town and rolled over their hosts, winning by three goals to nil. After a lack of end-product, combined with poor defending, cost The Timbers on that occasion, all-round improvement is needed.
Salt Lake blighted by inconsistency
Unlike Portland, Real Salt Lake didn’t enjoy their time in Florida, where they scraped through the groups, thanks essentially to an opening-game victory, before losing tamely in the first knockout round. They have since got themselves together, beating Colorado Rapids by four goals to one on the road last time out. The Rapids aren’t the toughest side to beat, but such a result is still pleasing. If nothing else, it should mean that Freddy Juarez’s men go to Portland feeling upbeat.
In recent years, this hasn’t been a fixture for the visitors. Only one of the last five renewals of this matchup have gone the way of the visiting side. Four of the last five have seen the host emerge victorious. Moreover, since 2018, Portland have won each of their three home matches against Real Salt Lake, scoring seven goals and conceding none in the process. Such a record does not bode well for Saturday’s visitors.
No lack of goals
Since the resumption of Major League Soccer, Portland have done anything but shy away from high-scoring matches. Each of their seven matches in Florida contained at least three goals. They both scored and conceded in each of those seven. Salt Lake have also seen no shortage of goals in recent matches. They shared five goals with Colorado last time out, while no less than seven went in when they faced Sporting Kansas City prior to that. Salt Lake have now conceded two or more in each of their last three.
Underlying numbers point towards high-scoring game
Recent results suggest that the goals will flow at Providence Park on Saturday evening, though what do the underlying numbers say? In short, they too point towards goals.
Since MLS returned, Portland have averaged 1.6 expected goals for per 90 minutes. This tells us that they have created enough chances to net, on average, 1.6 goals per game, which isn’t bad. Unfortunately, they have been somewhat generous with what has been given away at the other end. The Timbers also average a rather sizable 1.92 expected goals against per 90. This tells us that, on average, Savarese’s side are giving away slightly more than they are creating.
Real Salt Lake’s creative output is slightly less than Portland’s, as they’ve averaged 1.46 expected goals for per 90 since soccer returned in the US. They’ve surrendered an average of 1.35, which is solid by MLS standards. However, such an average is skewed by one early game. If we take their last four matches, then Salt Lake have surrendered an average of 1.68, not to mention an average of two goals during that time.
Our preview’s Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake predictions & picks verdict: Bet on goals
Whichever way we try to spin this fixture, goals look likely, so much so in fact that ‘Over 2.5’ looks well worth a punt at best odds of -120 with the offshore bookies targeting the States. Portland have now gone seven matches with three or more goals hitting the net, while there’s been a rather large total of 14 goals scored in Real Salt Lake’s last three games.
Add in the above expected goals numbers, which show that, on average, the pair are both creating and conceding enough chances to warrant three goals per 90 and supporting the goals to flow at Providence Park is hard to avoid. The fact that Portland have seen an average of 28.52 shots (for and against) in their matches since MLS came back, alongside the fact that there has been 22.3 in Real Salt Lake matches, further fuels the notion that a bet on goals is worthwhile. So our Portland Timbers vs Real Salt Lake predictions relies on just the one solid betting pick selection for this MLS game: