The Portland Timbers will play the second leg of their current road trip today, taking on Chivas USA in Los Angeles in the two teams' second meeting of the season. Coming off of the Timbers' second win this year, a 2-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls,. the Timbers have a chance to win two road games in a row for the first time since joining MLS.
The Timbers are in the middle of a series of three games in eight days and, according to Caleb Porter, could look to change up their lineup in order to keep the team fresh ahead of Sunday's Cascadia Cup match against the Vancouver Whitecaps, back here in Portland.
One potential addition to the lineup is freshly signed defensive utility man Danny O'Rourke. O'Rourke can play anywhere across the back line or as a defensive midfielder, but with Alvas Powell still suspended, Michael Harrington recovering from an ankle injury, and the Timbers' centerback situation raising any number of red-flags, his insertion into the back line looks like a good possibility.
In the attack the number of potential changes for the Timbers is much higher, with players like Darlington Nagbe and Steve Zakuani putting in good shifts, but not chipping in the goals like they have been expected to. With Kalif Alhassan and Michael Nanachoff waiting in the wings, the Timbers could choose to switch up their wide attackers as well.
Of particular interest out wide is the potential return of Rodney Wallace, whose ACL tear in the final game of the Timbers' 2013 playoff run has kept him out so far this season. Porter has mentioned that Wallace could make a substitute appearance against Chivas today and has assured the press that his preferred position is on the left wing.
Following a frustrating eight game span without a win, Chivas suddenly find themsleves having gone two games without a loss, facing the team directly above them in the standings, and coming off a long bye-week. The Goats started off the season with an early victory this year before hitting their traditional slump. The team was made anew for the 2014 season, however, and as they gel together could look to hoist themselves up buy their bootstraps.
For Chivas, the defensive pairing of Bobby Burling and Carlos Bocanegra is seemingly inescapable, as the two veteran defenders provide a steady presence in the center of the pitch, dominating in the air, and generally being in the right place at the right time, but providing little in terms of speed. While they will never be world-beaters in MLS, the Timbers will need to work hard to beat the pair.
Like the Timbers, Chivas has yet to get a shutout this year, but also like the Timbers, the Goats have started to turn up their offensive output, bagging three goals in their away win over the Colorado Rapids two weeks ago thanks to thecontributions of recently acquired winger Marvin Chavez. The Timbers will need to keep an eye on Chavez specifically, as he is exactly the sort of speedy player that has given the Timbers fits this season.
Keys to the Game
Keep up the attacking quality. The Timbers have been managing to find the back of the net recently and, with the defense that was on top of the league last season unable to grind out the shutouts this year, they will need to continue to do so against Chivas.
Contain Cubo. Erick Torres has scored eight of Chivas's 13 goals this year and is a threat in the air or with his feet. The Timbers need to take him out of the game if they are going to have a chance of winning their third game of the season tomorrow.
Watch it on: KPDX
Kick off: 7:30 PM Pacific at the Stubhub Center in Carson, CA
Portland Timbers: 2-3-7, 8th place in the Western Conference
Chivas USA: 2-5-4, 9th place in the Western Conference