[U.S. OPEN CUP: Preview] Real Salt Lake and the Portland Timbers, who are battling for MLS's Western Conference lead, play in the first of three meetings over the next 24 days when they meet Wednesday at Rio Tinto Stadium, where the largest crowd ever for a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal is expected.
Real Salt Lake and Portland have not yet met this season, but RSL will travel to Portland to take on the Timbers Aug. 21 before hosting them at Rio Tinto Stadium Aug. 30. Neither team has advanced as far as the quarterfinals.
RSL had never advanced past the quarterfinal stage of the Open Cup until it its 3-0 win over the NASL Carolina RailHawks, who had beaten the LA Galaxy and Chivas in previous rounds.
A year ago, RSL suffered a 3-1 loss at home by the Minnesota Stars FC after purchasing the rights to host from the NASL club -- a setback Coach Jason Kreis calls that “the most embarrassing moment in club history."
The Timbers also defeated the Wilmington Hammerheads (USL PRO) and Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) in third- and fourth-round matches before ousting FC Dallas, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
Both teams are coming off ties in MLS play on Saturday. RSL held on to its three-point lead over Colorado and Portland with a 2-2 tie with the Rapids, while the Timbers tied Vancouver, 1-1, at home.
-- Wednesday marks the first RSL home game for its four Gold Cup players, Kyle Beckerman, Nick Rimando, Tony Beltran and Alvaro Saborio, in six weeks.