Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew Preview and Match Thread [7:30 PM]

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 21: Members of the 'Timbers Army' celebrate after the Portland Timbers scored on an own goal during the first half of the game against Sporting Kansas City at Jeld-Wen Field on April 21, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. The Timbers won the game 1-0. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

Sorry for the lack of preview content this week guys. I'm not sure about you guys, but last week's defeat really got to me. Oh that and the many, many projects and midterms due this past week while I'm finishing up my degree. One or the other.

In any case, tonight's match is yet another chance for the Portland Timbers to turn their season around. And with almost a third of the season upon us, the chances for making those play offs is starting to look a little gloomy, but we're not out yet!

Additionally, tonight's match is against yet another Eastern Conference team. The Timbers are currently 2-2-0 (W-L-D) against Eastern Conference teams, with both wins coming at Jeld-Wen Field and both losses being away from home. While those aren't good stats over all, it should hopefully give us some clue as to a possible outcome for tonight's match.

Let's take a look at both teams:

Assessing Our Team

The big news coming out of Will's training reports is that Cap'n Jack Jewsbury might not be taking his usual center midfield position instead opting to cover the right back situation which has been a mess since the season began. As we saw earlier this week, Jewsbury was actively playing that position during training and with Lovel Palmer clearly not up to the task and Steve Purdy out with a concussion, that leaves Jewsbury to take the reigns. If it happens, this will be the first time Jewsbury has played that position since playing for the Kansas City Wizards, now Sporting Kansas City.

In other news, I'm expecting and hoping that well see Mike Chabala take back the left back position as I feel like he's been the most consistent there. Nothing against Steven Smith (who was confirmed as not starting anyway), who is probably much better than he showed against the Montreal Impact, it's just that I think he needs more time to figure out the system here before he can be really effective. Maybe in a few weeks.

One interesting bit is figuring out who should be paired up next to Kris Boyd up top. Jorge Perlaza has been the goto guy for the last couple games, but I'm not convinced we'll see him again tonight. Instead, I wonder if we'll see our Mike Fucito debut tonight. As a former Seattle Sounders fan-favorite, I'm wondering just what he can do for the Timbers.

Here's my predicted starting line up:

Troy Perkins; Jack Jewsbury, Eric Brunner, Hanyer Mosquera, Mike Chabala; Darlington Nagbe, Diego Chara, Lovel Palmer, Eric Alexander; Kris Boyd, Mike Fucito

Assessing the Enemy

So this is a fairly wild shot in the dark for a couple reasons. First, I was unable to talk to our SB Nation buddies at the Massive Report about the Columbus Crew and, as such, don't have any insider knowledge. But more important, have you guys seen their injury list? It's pretty massive...

COLUMBUS CREW -- OUT: FW Ben Speas (sports hernia rehab); DF Rich Balchan (sports hernia rehab); FW Tommy Heinemann (L knee surgery); DF Julius James (illness); GK William Hesmer (R hip surgery); FW Aaron Schoenfeld (R plantar fascia rupture); DOUBTFUL: MF Dilly Duka (L hamstring strain); DF Carlos Mendes (R hamstring strain); FW Olman Vargas (L hamstring contusion); QUESTIONABLE: MF Danny O'Rourke (L ankle sprain)

With so many players out I'm having trouble figuring out who's going to be in what position based on my limited knowledge. Even after checking out Massive Report's game preview has left my head scratching as they're not even sure who will start given the amount of injuries going on.

Bottom line guys, we're facing an enigma tonight. It could be in the Timbers favor, or it could not. We'll just have to wait and see.

Oh one more thing, aside from having one game less played than the Timbers, the Crew are pretty much in the exact same position as us. They have 7 points with a -4 GD. They're coming off a 1-nil loss to Vancouver last weekend and will certainly be looking to grab the three point away from home tonight.

Final Thoughts

I already pointed this out in my intro, but the season is fast closing on being a third of the way through. While it was nice back in March and April to be able to shrug off a loss as being "early on in the season" and "we've got plenty of time to pull it back," at this point those excuses are becoming less and less valid. The Timbers need points, badly. Perhaps not as bad as Toronto FC, but they're certainly not looking at a play-off position right now either.

--

Tonight's game is on Fox12 (KPTV) at 7:30 PM at Jeld-Wen Field. As usual, expect us to be active on Twitter and here in the comments as the game commences.

Starting Lineups

Timbers

Troy Perkins;

Jack Jewsbury, Hanyer Mosquera, Futty Danso, Mike Chabala;

Franck Songo'o, Lovel Palmer, Diego Chara, Rodney Wallace;

Darlington Nagbe, Kris Boyd

Crew

Andy Gruenebaum;

Sebastian Miranda, Eric Gehrig, Josh Williams, Nemanja Vukovic;

Eddie Gaven, Danny O'Rourke, Milovan Mirosevic, Tony Tchani;

Emilio Renteria, Ethan Finlay

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