The Portland Timbers travel to a once storied franchise that recently has fallen on hard times. Attendance is down, the fans have felt like the red-headed step child of the Patriots, and last season was the worst season in New England Revolution history. Portland must not take this game lightly, as no game is a gimme in any professional sport.
Portland earned there first road point of the year last year against NER and the hope is this year they will earn their first road win. We will take a look at what exactly Portland needs to do to earn that win and will do so by breaking it down by position, Defense/Goalkeeper, Midfield and Forwards.
Portland will win if: The continue the aerial supremacy and physicality they have shown in the second half of the first two games. Despite giving up two goals in the first two games Portland's defense has only given up 11 shots total and 5 of those have been on goal. If Portland can continue to average only 5 shots on goal a game they will win more often than not. With New England most likely playing a 4-5-1 it will be up to the CB's to not let the lone striker, Saer Sene, to control any outlet passes and hold the ball to allow other Revs players to join in the attack.
If our CBs do their job the outside backs will then need to work with the midfielders to stifle any attack down the wing.
Portland will lose if: The defense is not solid, like the first 35 minutes in Dallas, and allows the attacking players on the wings and the lone striker time on the ball to create. The Revs are a team that want to possess the ball and if they do that they have a shot at winning.
Portland will win if: Portland can smother Shalrie Joseph and not allow him any space or time to create. Not only will they have to contend with Joseph but they will also have to contend with an extra midfielder from the 4-5-1. The CM's need to play the ball quicker and more decisive in order to combat the extra body the revs will have in the midfield. Captain Jack Jewsbury will also need to be more of a defensive player and be very communicative with the CBs to ensure the CAM does not sneak by the CBs. The wings have the simplest role, feed Boyd early and often.
Portland will lose if: They let the Revs win the midfield with they extra midfielder and not punish the Revs for playing a lone striker. If Joseph is able to find their lone striker and link up with the other midfielders it could be a long day for the Timbers.
Portland will win if: Kris Boyd scores. If Boyd scores it means the wings are feeding him the ball and it also means other players are getting time and space. The Revs have not handled physical strikers well the past few seasons and Boyd fits nicely into that mold. If Darlington Nagbe starts up front with Boyd he will need to help out in the midfield like he did during the Dallas game and then link up with Boyd. This is a game where Nagbe can showcase his skills and really carve up the opposition's defense.
Portland will lose if: A defense put together with duct tape and gum are able to contain Boyd and cut off service to him. With only 1 CB currently healthy and not suspended this is the biggest area of concern for the Revs and if they can figure it out they stand a chance if not Portland will walk all over them.
Portland is going to win, and I really think they are the exact team the Revs did not want to face with their CB issues. If Nagbe starts Portland will win handily. Franck Songo'o will have an assist in this game.