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Real Salt Lake-Timbers Preview
By ALAN FERGUSON
(AP) -- Real Salt Lake might be getting healthier just in time for one of its more hectic stretches of the season.
RSL will play three games in eight days beginning with Saturday night's visit to the Portland Timbers, who are also seeking to rebound from their first loss of the season.
Real Salt Lake won its first two games despite missing players from the starting lineup but couldn't get past visiting Chivas USA this past weekend. A 1-0 loss ended RSL's pursuit to match its franchise-record 4-0-0 start from last season, but the team is hoping some key additions will help it get back on track.
Nat Borchers (strained quad) and Will Johnson (strained groin) have missed each of the first three games, while Alvaro Saborio and Javier Morales have been limited to substitute roles following offseason surgeries.
Borchers might be ready to return Saturday, and Johnson is listed as probable. Coach Jason Kreis said Saborio and Morales were close to earning starts during last week's defeat, but he decided to stick with Paulo Junior and Sebastian Velasquez, who performed well in the season-opening wins.
"We're trending positively," Kreis said. "I feel like everybody is getting closer to full fitness, full health and full soccer strength. Everyone is moving forward. They're not all in the exact same place, but I feel like as early as this weekend they could all be in at least consideration for playing time."
During its potentially treacherous trip to Portland, RSL (2-1-0) will face a Timbers team carrying a number of nagging injuries, including concussions to forward Eddie Johnson and defender Hanyer Mosquera. Fellow defender Mamadou Danso is also dealing with a broken bone in his left foot, and David Horst has been recovering from offseason hip surgery.
Mosquera also broke a bone in his face during last week's 1-0 loss at New England, the team's first in three games. That defeat ended a two-game road stretch for Portland (1-1-1), which is 5-1-1 in its last seven MLS home games and 10-5-3 there all-time in league competition.
"We've got to move forward now," coach John Spencer said. "It's one of them games, rarely do they happen, when everyone on the field wasn't playing well."
Salt Lake, meanwhile, is 4-10-4 in its last 18 on the road, including last season's playoffs, but won at reigning MLS Cup champion Los Angeles in the season opener.
During their inaugural MLS campaign, the Timbers registered a 1-0 victory over Real Salt Lake at home April 30. The teams also played to a 1-all draw in Utah on Oct. 22.
Danso scored the tying goal in stoppage time during that game, and Saborio tallied his team's lone score just before halftime.
Real Salt Lake's Fabian Espindola is seeking a team record-tying 29th goal and his third in four games.
Updated March 30, 2012