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Portland Timbers @ D.C. United Preview and Match Thread

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PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 14:  The Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on October 14, 2011 in Portland Oregon. The Dynamo won over the Timbers 2-0. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - OCTOBER 14: The Portland Timbers at Jeld-Wen Field on October 14, 2011 in Portland Oregon. The Dynamo won over the Timbers 2-0. (Photo by Jay Drowns/Getty Images)
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Unfortunately, due to midweek craziness of school and work I have been unable to do my usual interview previews with other bloggers. I know, I know... we all love them so much. So I do apologize for that. Still, at this point, I think we should all have a fairly good grasp on the team the Timbers will be facing tonight. If you don't, well, feel free to scroll on down...

Anyway, as I mentioned in today's TTB, tonight's game is huge for the Timbers. Without a win tonight, the task set before the Timbers getting into the play-offs becomes all the more grim, doubly so if New York defeats Philly tomorrow night. In fact, if the Timbers lose to DC United tonight and New York wins tomorrow night I think it might be over.

Enough of hat though, let's just focus on tonight's match:

Assessing Our Team

The Timbers are in a small slump right now. Despite the away win against the Vancouver Whitecaps, we haven't really seen the Timbers dominate a match since the New England Revolution came to town. That's something you don't want to see, especially when the players are at home as they were against the San Jose Earthquakes and Houston Dynamo, each of whom put together a more dominant side at Jeld-Wen Field (so much for that fortress).

Still heading into tonight;s game it's going to be very important that the Timbers go out with every intention of being the upset. Essentially they need to play like Houston played in Portland (although tonight's ref might not be nearly as "forgiving'). 

Of course, that all starts in the midfield. We can, once again, expect to see Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara take the center positions. Both players have had their ups and downs lately, but we need both of them to be up tonight. They need to show that sort of aggressiveness we say back in August-September. Jewsbury, especially, needs to get back into the game and driving the attack. His last goal came way back in August against the Houston Dynamo. I'm not saying he needs another one, but I think it's indicative of his performance lately that he's not getting as many shots, or assists as he was in the first half of the season.

The big news tonight is that both Darlington Nagbe and Sal Zizzo are listed on the OUT section of the injury list which means that the team will have to do without both tonight. That means we'll probably see Jorge Perlaza take his starting position up top once again., something I'm fine with as I think we missed his speed these last couple matches. As for the right wing position, with Zizzo and Nagbe out we could see Eric Alexander take a starting position.

Finally, please bring David Horst back into the center back position with Eric Brunner. Not that Futty isn't capable of delivering solid games, but David Horst was playing phenomenally back during the August-September upswing and I think some of his defensive plays are a bit smarter that Futty's even if he's less experienced.

Here's my projected starting line up:

Troy Perkins; Mike Chabala, Futty Danso, Eric Brunner, Lovel Palmer; Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury (c), Eric Alexander; Jorge Perlaza, Kenny Cooper

Assessing the Enemy

D.C. United has just as much to play for tonight as the Timbers. In fact, DC is actually in a worse off spot that the Timbers as they're currently sitting at 42 points. I'm not sure how it breaks down for them, but I think they might need to win both against the Timbers tonight and against their next opponents this weekend to earn their play off spot. Essentially they need a win just as much as the Timbers do tonight.

Of course the big news is that Dwayne De Rosario is expected to take the field against the Timbers, once again. This will be the third team DeRo has played for this seasn against the Timbers so it'll be interesting to see what kind of an impact he has. My guess is, as with New York, he'll play a pivotal role tonight.

DeRo is, of course, backed up by two very important D.C. United played: Charlie Davies who has 11 goals to his name so far this year and homegrown player Andy Najar, of which the latter is having a great season. Again I expect both players to be out there tonight as neither are listed on the injury list. Davies usual partner, however, Chis Pontius is listed as being OUT with an injury. I don't know who will replace him. We could see De Rosario come up top to pair with Charlie Davies.

Final Thoughts

There's not much more to say about the match itself. The guys need to go out and show some conviction in their game. Even if they lose, at least it'll be in a blaze of glory.

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Tonight's match kicks off at 5:00pm on ROOT SPORTS.