Will Portland win tonight?

The obvious answer is not if they play like they did against Colorado. However Portland is Dr Jekyll on the road and Mr Hyde at home. (Or is it the other way around?) They also tend to play to the level of their opponents and since San Jose is the best team in the league right now one could expect Portland to come out strong and wanting to play.

If Portland does show up ready to play there can win BUT in order for Portland to win they still need to do a number of things. They need to: 1) Defend two quality strikers 2) Defend when tired against a super sub 3) Play a full 90 4) Actually show up offensively.

Defending against two quality strikers is nothing new to the Timbers as each of their last two opponents have had two quality strikers on the field. However against Seattle they actually shut down, for the most part, their strikers but allowed Colorado's duo to do what ever they wanted whenever they wanted. To shut down San Jose's strikers their needs to be better communication between between the outside defenders and the CB's.

The first two goals for Colorado on Saturday found their strikers wide open in between two Portland defenders and this usually occurs due to a lack of communication as to who has the marking responsibilities. However the third goal was the result of Portland being tired and not having the pace or stamina to keep up with a sub.

Against Seattle Portland left Fedy Montero and Eddie Johnson with little time and space. This usually means Portland is communicating well and passing players back and forth as the move in and out of their defensive responsibilities. If the defense that played against Seattle shows up Portland has a shot.

If Portland can't dig deep and keep up with Alan Gordan late in the game, if Portland is tied or has the lead, they will be subject to the "Goonies Never Say Die" attitude of the San Jose Earthquakes. We all know Portland's 75+ minute form and it will take a large effort from the whole team to close out this game if they can get to that point.

For Portland to get to the 75th minute tied or in the lead they actually have to show they can play consistently at the level they played in the first 45 against Seattle. This seems to be the biggest problem with Portland as they have not been consistent offensively.

When Portland is off going forward there are a lot of balls played long to the head or chest of the forwards with no build up to the play. When Portland is clicking offensively there are a lot of balls played to feet and behind the defense which allows for wholes to be created as the defense reacts. If Portland can create these channels Kris Boyd can cause trouble for San Jose, if not it is very easy to Defend Portland.

If Portland can play as a TEAM and not as individuals they will always have a chance to win. So will they play as a team?

Prediction:

2-0 Loss. I just can't bring myself to say they can do it, not after seeing San Jose and the way they are the Anti-Timbers.

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