What to Watch For - Timbers vs. Chivas (Wednesday 1 PM)

An aggressive schedule coming up for the Timbers in the next week sees them playing Chivas and then FC Dallas; both away games.

Not too sure if others will agree with this but I am optimistic that the Timbers can walk away with 4 or maybe even 6 points. Yes, sounds very optimistic but both those teams are struggling just as much, if not more, than the Timbers.

We also have two key players returning to the lineup this week (Diego Chara and Franck Songo'o) and I think both will be heavy contributors to the team.

In working a WTWF for these back to back games here's how I hope they line up - it goes against the run of systems lately but I feel it provides us the greatest opportunity for success based upon our strengths and weaknesses. NOTE: a 4-5-1 with the same players will pretty much mean the same formation but will require one additional midfielder to play a more disciplined 'get behind the ball' approach than with the (bucket - side-to-side - front-to-back 4-4-2).

Who I'd like to see starting in a standard (box-to-box) 4-4-2 formation for both games is:

Goalie = Perkins

Back Four (right to left) = Kimura, Mosquera, Futty (Brunner if healthy) and Smith (but perhaps give Chabala another run out there in lieu of Smith) If either Chivas or FC Dallas have the speed and foot skills of LAG then the combination on our left side needs to get better and be more disciplined in not 'hurrying forward' and leaving untenable gaps in the fullback area...

Midfield (Here's where it gets contentious) (right to left): Alhassan, Chara, Alexander, Songo'o

Strikers: Boyd and Nagbe

Midfield: Eric Alexander ran the central midfield in the second half last week and performed well, very well, given he has not had that role before this year. Bringing Songo'o in opposite KAH gives PTFC a dynamic wing attack to work off of and from within and outside Nagbe, Boyd and Alexander. In addition to that both Songo'o and Alhassan have shown their ability to rotate in and around the center of the pitch as well as on opposite sides in which they start.

Having the dynamic midfield also provides GW that capability to run a less aggressive fullback overlap system and gear more towards running a flood left or flood right similar to how they took shape a couple of times against LA Galaxy.

1-v-1's: These battles will always be critical in managing turnovers in our own half as well as trying to gain those types of turnovers in the attacking half. So this WTWF returns for me this week.

Set Pieces: Two cracking goals off the set-pieces against LAG this past weekend and these types of start-ups, along with corner kicks have been very successful for the Timbers this year. Is there a different set-piece to work from - we have gone to the well on this specific set-piece for a number of weeks; yes it was successful twice against LAG; but how long do we go to that well? Not saying we change it for change sake... if it works don't fix it!

Overall midfield control and possession: If we do indeed see both Chara and Alexander lineup in the central midfield these next two games this will be a great learning by burning opportunity for these guys.

My best wishes to PTFC in these next two games; I really feel like this team can take 4 or 6 points against these two teams.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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