A huge home game that is nationally televised for the Timbers kicks-off at 8:00 PM this evening according to the Timbers web site: http://www.portlandtimbers.com/
Once again a sellout crowd is expected and the pressure of this game is even larger than normal with the change in leadership by the Timbers.
Much discussion this week that the home game lineup and the system of play probably won't change too much between what was run by John Spencer versus what will probably be set up by Gavin Wilkinson.
Having said that this is how I think we will line up for tonight:
Defense: Kimura, Mosquera, Horst, Smith
Perhaps the only issue here, is who pairs up with a returning Mosco... is it Futty Danso or is it David Horst - I favor Horst; he has been an absolute beast since starting 5 games ago and his confidence has got to be running high right now. Smith and Kimura are probably clear cut selections to start on the left and right fullback positions respectively.
Midfield: KAH, Jewsbury, Alexander, Nagbe
Discussion: I just don't see Nagbe as a CAM or any other type of central midfielder; it works against his strengths so my gut says that Gavin Wilkinson runs him on the wings today. I feel Gavin puts his stamp on this first difference between himself and Spencer - Nagbe, for this game goes out wide and Alexander slots into the central midfield. Others may disagree.
Eventually Gavin Wilkinson is going to have Chara, Songo'o, KAH, Alexander, and Nagbe all healthy at one time... if it is critical that all five of these young players get maximum minutes and you then include Mwanga with that group then the BIG question is where do Jewsbury and Boyd fit in? Unless you go with 5 midfielders and 2 strikers you have two veterans getting limited playing time from this game forward. All that knowing that Braun, Zizzo and Wallace will be wanting and needing playing time too. Truly a LOGJAM in the midfield... But that worry is for another day.
Strikers: Mwanga and Boyd
Discussion: If Songo'o were 100% healthy; maybe he is? I'd like to see Songo'o starting in the midfield and Nagbe pushed into the center forward position; again working to what I see are his strengths...
The game itself - tons of opinions both for and against the sacking of John Spencer. For me it's time to move on and get past it. The players will need a unified support from the fan base and tonight is a great opportunity to show that unity. I think this team comes out and performs with a lot of extra adrenaline; as they always do in home games. The hard part is controlling that adrenaline and not over-committing at the wrong time. Galaxy have some great players who have played in plenty of big games across the world.
As for the scoreline - I have absolutely no clue... I personally won't focus on the scoreline other than being really pleased if Timbers win.
Here's hoping we get three points tonight.
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