Sandy, UT (Sports Network) - Just nine days after playing to a 3-3 draw at Jeld-Wen Field, the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake will renew acquaintances when they square off at Rio Tinto Stadium on Friday.
Friday's tilt will be the second of three meetings between Portland and Salt Lake this season, and it promises to be a lively affair as the Timbers, who started the season without a loss in their first nine games away from home, look to put an end to their disappointing road form which has seen the club drop its last two contests away from Jeld-Wen.
Portland is coming off of a narrow 1-0 road defeat to Seattle Sounders FC, a result that perhaps did not tell the whole story according to head coach Caleb Porter.
"Well, we played well. It was a very even game," Porter said after the match. "For us to come in to this environment and basically go toe-to-toe with one of the most talented teams in the league and control large periods ... we had chances. They had a few as well, but it was a very even game and it was a real credit to our guys, especially with the fact that we had several guys out. For us to come into this game and play as well as we did and perform as well as we did is commendable."
Porter may feel the performance was sufficient, but with only nine matches left in Portland's season, it's getting to the point where points need to become the priority.
Sunday's loss to Seattle dropped the Timbers (39 points) to fourth place in the Western Conference, just two points above the playoff line.
Real Salt Lake, meanwhile, has been in cruise control for much of the season. The Claret and Cobalt enter the weekend on 45 points through 27 games, good enough to leave the club atop the overall MLS table.
Jason Kreis' side most recently routed the Columbus Crew, 4-0, at Rio Tinto in a showing that the RSL boss was proud of from beginning to end.
"For me this is the most complete match we've played the entire season, and I think it's fantastic that this comes a day after I challenged the group," Kreis said. "I feel like we've done a lot of good things this year in every single match. We've also done some pretty bad things in every single match. So tonight I thought it was the most complete performance we've had in a match this year, and it comes at the right time because we're at our most critical stretch."
Kyle Beckerman was instrumental in the victory, but not in the usual manner. The holding midfielder got on the scoresheet with two goals, a facet of his game that typically is not seen.
"Goals are just fun. They're fun to score," said the RSL captain. "It's a great feeling after it happens, and it's always good to get on the stat line to help the team in that way.
"We're just going to continue to try and get better. I think that we can get even better than we were tonight and keep improving, keep our head down, keep working hard and get ready for the playoffs."