"From my point of view, he's in contention."
Team officials initially expected Saborio to be sidelined at least two weeks and possibly a month with a shoulder injury suffered in a crucial CONCACAF Champions League victory over Tauro FC in Panama on Tuesday.
Saborio drew a penalty kick when he was taken down by the Tauro goalkeeper in the penalty area in the 93rd minute of a game RSL needed to win to keep alive its hopes of advancing in the tournament.
He was hurt on the play, but did not show any signs until after he converted the penalty for a 1-0 victory that players and coaches hope lifts them for the last five games of the MLS regular season.
"Maybe that was the bounce, the call, the decision that turns things right for us," Kreis said.
RSL certainly could use Saborio, considering he has scored 10 of the team's last 17 goals in all competitions and scored three goals in the last meeting with the Timbers a 3-0 victory for RSL on July 7.
If he can't play, Kreis said "other players are going to need to step up" in order to beat the playing-out-the-string Timbers and snap a streak of having scored just three goals in its last six league games.
While the Timbers have been eliminated from the playoffs and have yet to win on the road this season, RSL is fighting to finish in the top three of the MLS Western Conference. That way, it will avoid having to play a new wild-card game that would really increase the degree of difficulty in reaching the MLS Cup title game.
The team is tied for third with the Los Angeles Galaxy, just two points behind Seattle.
"We're ready to go out and put on a good performance and try to keep pace with the other teams," midfielder Kyle Beckerman said.
Beckerman will be back in the lineup for RSL after missing the Tauro game with a red-card suspension, which bodes well for a defense that has posted four shutouts in its last five games in all competitions.
"Every single game from here on out is absolutely critical for us, both in the league and Champions League," Kreis said. "I really feel like the playoffs have started."
Timbers at Real Salt Lake
P At Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy
Kickoff • Saturday, 6 p.m.
TV • NBCSN
Radio • 700 AM, 1600 AM, 102.3 FM
Records • RSL 14-11-4, Portland 7-14-8
Regular-season series • RSL leads, 2-1-1
Last meeting • RSL 3, Portland 0 (July 7)
About RSL • It's just 1-4-1 in its last six league games, with just three goals scored. … Forward Alvaro Saborio leads the team with 14 goals in league play. … It's 12-1-0 when scoring first, and 2-10-1 when conceding first. … Midfielder Kyle Beckerman will return to the lineup, after missing a CONCACAF Champions League game with a red-card suspension. … Defenders Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler and Kenny Mansally all are listed as probable, despite various leg injuries. … It's playing its last regular-season home game until the regular-season finale against Vancouver on Oct. 27.
About the Timbers • Already eliminated from the playoffs, they're still searching for their first road victory of the season. … Forward Kris Boyd leads the team with seven goals, but has been mostly out of the lineup for the last month. … They're 0-10-4 on the road, and coming off a 2-2 draw at San Jose in which they led until stoppage time. … Former RSL defender David Horst has started 15 games this season.