FRISCO, TX - MARCH 17: FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman looks on as his team takes the field against the Portland Timbers during the MLS match at FC Dallas Stadium on March 17, 2012 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
It's a battle of the basement dwellers tonight! And it brings me absolutely no joy in saying that. As the Portland Timbers look to earn their first road win against the other worst team in the league, FC Dallas will be looking to right their season amidst a series of injuries.
One thing to remember is that the Portland Timbers don't have the best record at FC Dallas Stadium. Last year the team lost 4-nil in Dallas and this year they went 1-1 against Dallas. They also don't have the best record against other bottom dwelling teams. Against Chivas USA, last week, the Timbers were seemingly more than willing to help them end their goal scoring drought and help them get over their home record.
Let's take a look at each team.
Assessing Our Team
With Gavin Wilkinson heading into his third game, all eyes will turn to how he sets up the squad for tonight's match and, if we're lucky, we could see some choice changes that could see the Timbers are a more effective offensive side.
The primary player that has been missing in the last few games has been Franck Songo'o. While he's been coming on as a substitute, it would be hard to argue that, prior to his injury, he was looking very dangerous both during the run of play and for set pieces. Now that he appears to be regaining his full fitness again, the hope is that he'll be able to return to the same form that we all loved so much before.
Really, though, it all comes down to the formation. Against Chivas we saw the Timbers play a 4-5-1 formation which left them relatively muted throughout. With three losses in a row, we could see something a bit different tonight, perhaps with Danny Mwanga starting up top once again next to Kris Boyd in a more traditional formation? Your guess is as good as mine. Unfortunately, we don't have Will's usual training reports to rely on for insider information this go around...
Here's my predicted starting line up:
Yes, I've left Darlington Nagbe out...
Assessing the Enemy
FC Dallas is a difficult team to figure out right now as they're in a bit of an odd situation. While all the stats, standings, and tables show that they're one of the worst teams in the league, on paper they have some very, very talented players. So why have they been so ineffective this season? Injuries. The team has been absolutely handicapped for the first half of this season and it's only now that they're beginning to regain their form.
The reason why I bring this up is because one of their key players, David Ferreira, has recently returned to playing with FC Dallas and he can definitely cause some hurt for a team as shaky as the Portland Timbers. That said, he's still listed as PROBABLE, so he's not totally in the clear, but my guess is that we'll see him tonight.
Also, one other big news item, FC Dallas recently acquired Toronto FC DP Julian de Guzman. While TFC has never been a dominant team, this player is certainly skilled at being a holding midfielder. Look to him to cause some problems in the midfield and slow the game down if Portland begins to push on the attack.
0 points in 3 games. That's not a good record for any team let alone the Timbers who aren't exactly setting the world on fire. They need points... fast. Otherwise we could see Toronto FC, who lost their first 9 games, actually over take the Timbers. I don't know about you guys, but that's pretty embarrassing.
Tonight's game kicks off at 6:00pm on Fox 12.