Portland Timbers @ Chivas USA Preview and Match Thread

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 07: Kris Boyd #9 of the Portland Timbers scores on a shot past goalkeeper Dan Kennedy #1 of the Chivas USA during the first half of the game at Jeld-Wen Field on April 7, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)

So, Game One with Gavin Wilkinson as interim head coach didn't go so well -- entertaining, yes, but entertainment doesn't add points to the standings. The Portland Timbers will try to turn things around in front of a prepubescent midday crowd at the Home Depot Center today. If the Boys in Green are going to get a win away from home at all this season, it might as well come against the worst offense in MLS.

With kick off an hour and a half away, let's take an abbreviated look at the teams.

Assessing Our Team

First, check out some of the other preview material we've posted this week -- Will has posted a couple of enlightening training reports on Monday and Tuesday, while Ryan posted his analysis of how Portland will get its first road win.

The Timbers are close to full strength again, after having dealt with a few key absences over the past few weeks. Diego Chara will almost certainly return to the lineup today, having served his suspension for the goal-line handball he committed against Real Salt Lake.

Franck Songo'o came back to training last week after suffering a knee sprain in his dominant performance against San Jose Earthquakes two weeks ago. Wilkinson says he's a possibility to start.

Wilkinson gave a few more hints about the starting lineup than we were used to hearing from John Spencer. From his comments on Monday it sounds like he wants to give the 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 formation another go, this time with Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara in the center. At this point, though, it's unclear if Songo'o will make the starting lineup, and if he does, whether he would replace Eric Alexander, Darlington Nagbe or Kalif Alhassan, all of whom received praise from Wilkinson.

Predicted Starting XI:

Perkins; Kosuke Kimura, Futty Danso, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith; Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara; Eric Alexander, Darlington Nagbe, Franck Songo'o; Kris Boyd

Assessing the Enemy

I posted a preview of how boring Chivas USA is yesterday, and you can read more about Chivas at The Goat Parade.

Chivas USA has scored by far the fewest goals in MLS this season, even as their defense has been one of the best in the league.

Those realities might suggest they are a team that likes to sit back and wait for counter-attacks, but in fact, with the exception of recently acquired Juan Agudelo (who is listed as doubtful today), this is not a particularly fast team. They attack by controlling possession effectively and applying pressure from all parts of the field. What they have lacked is consistency up front.

Predicted Starting XI:

Dan Kennedy; Rauwshan McKenzie, Danny Califf, James Riley; Laurent Courtois, Ben Zemanski, Nick LaBrocca, Jorge Villafana; Juan Pablo Angel, Alejandro Moreno, Jose Correa

Final Thoughts

Today's match kicks off at 1:00 PM at Home Depot Center in Carson, California. You can watch it live on ROOT Sports or listen on 750 AM The Game.

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