Portland Timbers @ New York Red Bulls Preview and Match Thread [4:00pm]

Can the Timbers contain their former striker?

Tonight sees the second of a two game away streak and, unfortunately, it's against a team far more competent than the Portland Timbers' latest opponent: Toronto FC. The good news, however, is that the Timbers, despite the miserable season so far, has come up big against teams that, on paper, they're supposed to lose against. Sporting Kansas City, San Jose Earthquakes, and the Seattle Sounders all fell to the Timbers, albeit at home, not away. So we'll see.

The other big piece of news going into tonight's game is that it will be the first time that Kenny Cooper has played against the Portland Timbers since he was traded away during the off season. For those that don't know, he's been on a bit of a goal scoring frenzy this year and is well on track to double his last year's goal total. In fact, he'll probably surpass it entirely.

Let's check out both teams:

Assessing Our Team

The Timbers are coming off a 2-2 draw with fellow bottom dweller, Toronto FC. While the game was entertaining, the same persistent defensive issues continued as a number of gaffes led to a number of chances by Toronto in the second half. Unfortunately, the issues seem to stem from all sides of the defensive, including goal keeper Donovan Ricketts who, while coming up big a couple times, also had some shaky moments of his own.

The other big news would be the return of Franck Songo'o after he was suspended for a yellow card accumulation last week. This is going to be great news for the attacking aspect of the team because, while the TImbers did manage to notch two goals last week, that creative element was definitely missing and we can't rely on Steven Smith to come up big like that for every game.

Finally, and I know I already mentioned him once, but tonight will be Donovan Rickett's time to shine. With Neither Kenny Cooper nor Thierry Henry listed as injured, there's a good chance we'll see both of them tonight and they'll certainly be aiming to put the pressure on the Ricketts tonight.

Here's my predicted starting line up:

Donovan Ricketts; Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Steven Smith; Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara; Franck Songo'o, Kris Boyd, Sal Zizzo

Assessing the Enemy

New York is a difficult team to analyze, but I urge you guys to check out both Ryan's and Andy's previews:

The big news for the Red Bulls is that designated player Rafael Marquez is officially out for tonight's game. This means that they'll certainly be lacking on the defensive midfield position.

That said, with both Tim Cahill, their newest DP, Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper expected to start it's going to make for a very challenging opponent. Probably their biggest one this year on paper.

Final Thoughts

A win tonight would be a huge boon to the Timbers. At this point it would mostly be morale, since the likelihood of any play off spot is becoming increasingly more unlikely, but the guys need a road win and they need to remember what it's like to win because I fear, at this point, that they have forgotten.

--

Tonight's game airs on KPTV locally and Galavision nationally at Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Kick off is at 4:00pm.

Starting Lineups

New York Red Bulls

Bill Gaudette, Conor Lade, Markus Holgersson, Heath Pearce, Roy Miller, Jan Gunnar Solli, Dax McCarty, Tim Cahill, Joel Lindpere, Sebastien Le Toux, Thierry Henry

Portland Timbers

Donovan Ricketts; Kosuke Kimura, Hanyer Mosquera, David Horst, Steven Smith; Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury (c), Diego Chara; Sal Zizzo, Bright Dike, Franck Songo'o

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