Definitely the player Timbers fans should look out for. I hear he's a beast in the backline.
The preview chat returns! I wasn't able to get to it for the Vancouver Whitecaps game, unfortunately, due to the travel chaos and havoc surrounding international travel (can we just annex Canada already? I kid!). In any case, this week I was lucky enough to be able to sit down with Zach Woosley of SB Nation's Houston Dynamo blog Dynamo Theory to discuss the game and the team.
As we all know Friday's game is the last game of the regular season and possibly the last game of the year (lot so play off implications!). By my calculations the Timbers need at least 46 points to have a chance at making it in one of the four wildcard spots and Friday's game is probably the easiest route to at least half the points needed.
Here's the preview chat:
SF: This Friday's game has huge implications for both teams. What are Houston's chances of making the playoffs if they lose here in Portland?
Zach: Well their chances aren't dead if they lose, but it takes what little control over their fate the Dynamo have and hands it over to New York, DC and Portland. A loss means Houston has to defeat LA in the finale to get to 46 points and then hope like crazy that nobody else catches up with them. Not exactly the place you want to be.
SF: So essentially they're coming into this week's game as if it's a "must win?"
Zach: They would never admit it, but they have to be looking at it that way. They'd be fools to count on LA fielding a weakened side in Houston on the 23rd (though they probably will) so better to get maximum points. That said, the Dynamo have had mixed reactions to "must win" situations all season, with the positive ones typically coming at home. Despite the win in Dallas, I don't have a ton of confidence about this team's ability to win away.
SF: Last time the two team's met former Timbers man Adam Moffat scored a hellofa goal. How has he been playing since? Should we expect to see him this Friday?
Zach: Unless he gets hurt in training, Moffat will start on Friday. He's been a fixture in the deep midfield role for Kinnear since the trade and his ability to sneak up on the attack and unleash some wicked shots won him the quick adoration of Dynamo fans. I expect he'll want to play even better in this game then he did when Portland came to Houston, if for no other reason that to just subtly remind the Timbers what they gave up. To be fair though, the trade has worked out great both ways and you don't see that very often.
SF: Absolutely. Both Mike Chabala and Lovel Palmer have become staples of the Timbers. Have they been missed by the Houston team or fans at all? (in a technical skill sense)
Zach: Considering Chabala wasn't playing and Palmer was being used out of position, I don't think the team misses them too much. The fans feel much differently though, both on and off the field. As far as technically, the most confusing things for fans to understand is that Palmer is a natural fullback and we've been mixing and matching at that position all season, regularly playing guys out of position in that spot more recently. Yet, we never used Palmer there. Add to that the money spent on Hunter Freeman who is living on the bench now and fans are wondering what the deal was.
SF: Predicted starting line up?
Once again, super thanks to Zach from Dynamo Theory for taking the time to answer some questions!