This Saturday when the Portland Timbers face off against the Columbus Crew both teams will be short a few starters. Portland will be missing Michael Harrington and the unrelenting midfield engine of Diego Chara. On the opposite side of the field, Columbus will be missing two starters from their back line.
Michael Parkhurst, Jairo Arrieta, Giancarlo Gonzalez, and Waylon Francis have all been called up to their respective National teams. Parkhurst and Francis are the two players that are confirmed out of this match due to having already left to train with their national teams. Both players will be fighting for a spot on the final rosters that go to Brazil.
For the remaining two, both have been called up by Costa Rica. And the training camp for their national team begins today in Central America. 4 of the 30 man preliminary roster have been left home as standby players. Jairo Arrieta is one of those 4, so he will be available to play if chosen in the game day roster. As for Giancarlo, I know many of us had hoped he would have also left for training camp. But it seems reports have Giancarlo staying with Columbus until after Saturday's match. From what I've been able to tell searching for news on the Costa Rican side, head coach Jorge Luis Pinto wanted all players to report to camp as soon as possible. And the Costa Rican federation pushed MLS pretty hard to get players released. Columbus was able to keep Giancarlo until after Saturday's match, and should depart for Costa Rica Sunday. Waylon Francis only has 2 caps to his name, so it was far more important to get to training earlier to help his chances of making the final roster. He needs the extra time for Pinto to observe him and fight for a spot to Brazil.
Other Opponents And Possible Missing Players
Including Saturday's match, the Portland Timbers play a total of 9 games between now and the end of the 2014 World Cup on Sunday, July 13th. 8 of those matches have the potential to be missing players on the opponent’s roster depending on how far their associated nation makes it in the tournament. It is safe to say that 6 of the first 7 games will be affected. The only game that should not be affected will be the June 11th match at home versus FC Dallas.1
The United States' last group match is on June 26th, and we will face Kansas City at home on the 27th, right after the two week break for the group stages. Even if the US does not make it out of the group stage, it will be unlikely, to say the least, that anyone will be playing in Portland the very next day.
So here are our upcoming games with all the information for players that could/should be missing due to World Cup training and the tournament itself.
- Saturday, May 17th; Home vs Columbus. Columbus will be missing Michael Parkhurst and Waylon Francis. Both have started on the back line every game this season. In fact, this should be the first time this season that Columbus is forced to change up their back line, with the missing center back and left back gone.
- Saturday, May 24th; Away vs New York. New York will be missing Tim Cahill to Australia and Roy Miller to Costa Rica.
- Wednesday, May 28th; Away vs Chivas USA. Chivas should be missing two players in their midfield. Oswaldo Minda could be training with Ecuador trying to get a final roster spot, and newly acquired from the Colorado Rapids, Marvin Chavez will be with Honduras.
- Sunday, June 1st; Home vs Vancouver. Vancouver will be missing right back Steven Beitashour to Iran. Also on the Honduras roster Johnny Leveron is listed as an alternate/sub, but unlikely to affect this match.
- Saturday, June 7th; Away vs Real Salt Lake. If Kyle Beckerman makes the final 23 man squad2 when the June 2nd deadline comes around, then he wouldn't be available for this game. Nick Rimando and Alvaro Saborio should definitely be with their final squads for this game.
- Wednesday, June 11th; Home vs Dallas. Outside of any injuries keeping players unavailable, no one will be missing this game due to national team call-ups.
- Friday, June 27th; Home vs Sporting KC. Matt Besler and Graham Zusi should both still be with the US National team or headed back home to the states and will be unavailable for this game. As long as they both make it into the final 23 man squad as many assume they will.
- Friday, July 4th; Away vs LA Galaxy. Landon Donovan and Omar Gonzalez will both still be with the US National Team based on the following scenario: The US finish second in Group G and make it to the knockout rounds, playing the winner of Group H on July 1st. If the US loses, it could be unlikely they would start for LA 3 days later (but it’d be an option depending on when they return to the states). And if the US wins that knockout round, the Quarterfinal match they would play will be on July 5th, the day after.
- Sunday, July 13th; Away vs Seattle. It would be safe to say that this match will not be hampered by US call-ups. The only way it could be affected would be for DeAndre Yedlin, Brad Evans, and Clint Dempsey to all make the final 23 man squad (Dempsey is the only lock for the final squad) AND for the US to make it to the final.
1It should be noted that the roster won’t be affected by any World Cup call-ups. Injuries, however, will be an entirely different beast and Dallas could still be affected by important injuries at that time.
2Independent of this match, as a fan of the USMNT, I hope that Beckerman makes the final squad. I feel he makes a better center mid partner for Michael Bradley than Jermaine Jones and I’d hope that he could at least be an option for Klinsmann in Brazil if/when needed.
2014 US Open Cup
The Portland Timbers will enter this year’s US Open Cup competition in the 4th round. This round will take place between June 10th and 18th. The only thing we know for sure is that we will be paired with a lower division team that wins their 3rd round match up. So this game will not be affected by call-ups. And the 5th round is slated to take place approximately one week later on June 24th and 25th. There is no real way to predict who we could get matched up against. But the US Open Cup likes to try to schedule rounds based on geography. So the most likely opponent, IF they defeat their 4th round opponent this time, should be our arch enemies, the Seattle Sounders. So at least Dempsey wouldn't be available.
And for those interested, here is a full list of all MLS players called up to their national teams for the World Cup.
How do you like our chances during this run of games? Think we are better off or that these absences won't have any reasonable effect?