Nat Borchers, Ryan Johnson

Real Salt Lake Man of the Match: Nat Borchers

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Choosing between Real Salt Lake center backs Nat Borchers and Chris Schuler as the best of a very good bunch Sunday night at Jeld-Wen Field is like choosing between ice cream or cake for dessert.

That is to say, both were very, very good. Not just in Sunday’s 1-0 achievement, either, but over the entire 180 minutes of this stylish series. In fact, good performances were all over the field for Jason Kries’ team Sunday as RSL finished the Western Conference job with a steely, calm authority.

But Borchers, RSL’s veteran, 32-year-old center back, was maybe just a smidge more commanding than Schuler along an RSL back line that did very, very little wrong. (In fact, in terms of notable mistakes for the visitor’s rear guard, Lovel Palmer’s early yellow card may have been about it.)

Portland, down two goals in the series, came into the Jeld-Wen night desperate for goals. And yet, the home team was mostly reduced to a series of half-chances and a few shots from beyond the 18. RSL’s busy midfield was quite responsible, but so were RSL’s center backs. Borchers, Schuler and Kyle Beckerman, RSL’s ever-present screening midfielder, were always in the right places at the right time anytime Portland players seemed like they were thinking about shooting.

(MORE: Real Salt Lake earns place in MLS Cup final, downs Portland 1-0 to win Western Conference)

Until Max Urruti’s drive right at goalkeeper Nick Rimando in the 84th minute, Portland had managed just one single shot on target. One – in a match where they were determined to attack, attack, attack.

Rimando’s night otherwise was a lot of organizing and grabbing a cross here and there – the few crosses that Borchers didn’t deal with, that is.

Statistically, Borchers was credited with 18 clearances and three blocked shots – both game-highs for either side.

When not dealing with balls into the box, Borchers’ positioning was so wise that neither Urruti nor starting Timbers’ striker Freddie Piquionne was a factor in hold-up play nor in getting a sniff near goal.

Hilarious “Friends” spoof video ‘starring’ Messi, Ronaldo (video)

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Given the rivalry surrounding the two megawatt superstars plying their trade in Spain, you may be surprised to learn that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are the best of friends.

[ MORE: Top USMNT-Mexico rivalry moments ]

At least that’s what this spoof video conveys, as the Real Madrid and Barcelona stars help each other navigate tax season and toilet troubles.

Brilliant stuff, from FootbOle:

Top USMNT-Mexico moments: Looking back ahead of Saturday

PASADENA, CA - JUNE 25:  Landon Donovan #10 of United States celebrates his goal with teammates Carlos Bocanegra #3 and Alejandro Bedoya #22  against Mexico during the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup Championship at the Rose Bowl on June 25, 2011 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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You could argue its the biggest match between the U.S. and Mexico outside of the 2002 World Cup’s Round of 16, and there would be few arguments against you.

The United States and Mexico will tangle on Saturday at the Rose Bowl, with the winner advancing to the 2017 Confederations Cup finals in Russia.

It’s only so often that these rivals match up in a “do or die” match. Sure World Cup qualifiers carry critical import, but they don’t always become the decisive moment in the qualifying cycle.

[ MORE: Spurs’ teen shining at center back for U.S. U-23s ]

Aside from the aforementioned World Cup match and the first match in the rivalry — see 1934 below — no other match has carried as much international weight as Saturday.

So with anticipation high, let’s dance backward in time to the Yanks’ best moments in the rivalry. And let’s also imagine what would have to happen to put Saturday in the mix.

(Of course, our apologies to Mexican fans. We aren’t including the times you slapped American soccer in the face).

2001, 2005, 2009, 2013 — “Dos a Cero” to the fourth power

There is no more celebrated score line in USMNT history than the 2-0 hurting it put on Mexico in four successive home World Cup qualifiers.

2002 — World Cup Round of 16

Goals from Brian McBride and Landon Donovan prodded an upset of the world’s then-No. 7 ranked nation, as the USMNT carried a feel of destiny through its best World Cup.

1934 — World Cup qualifier

Aldo Donnelli scored all four goals as the States won the first recorded match against Mexico, and it was a big one. The winner would go on to the 1934 tournament in Italy, while the loser would go on a tour of European friendlies. The States won, and wouldn’t win again until the qualifiers for the 1982 tournament.

2012 — First win at Azteca

It may’ve been a friendly, but Michael Orozco’s finish will go down as the Yanks’ first ever winner in the fortress of Mexico City.

1980 — World Cup qualifier

Though it meant little to the Yanks’ fate in the 1982 tournament — the U.S. finished last in a group with Mexico and Canada — it was the first win over El Tri in 46 years.