With only two preseason games remaining the Timbers will be looking to solidify their prospects for the starting line-up. In all of the preseason games the Timbers have had 4 on the back-line so we know we will have two center backs and two outside defenders. The midfield and forward positions have been the most fluid, with the line-up fluctuating between a 4-4-2 to a 4-3-3. With the roster as is I would say the Timbers are going to use a 4-4-2.
With the formation nearly set we can take a look at the possible players to fill the formation.
Looking at the minutes I think we can learn a lot about the what coach John Spencer is thinking. The minutes played in both the VC Fusion game and the LA Galaxy game are meaningless. They merely indicate we are taking a look at all the potential combinations of players and how well they play in game situations.
The first real look at possible starters comes in the Houston Dynamo game, where Spencer hinted he wanted to look at potential starters. Therefore those players with 80 minutes are potential starters. (The game was called due to weather at the 80 minute mark.) However, the Montreal game was used as another look at the players not able to participate in the Houston game or the U-18 game, which was also cancelled due to the weather.
Finally there is the Sporting KC game where we see 6 players go the full 90 minutes. These 6 players were Darlington Nagbe, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall, Rodney Wallace and Troy Perkins are all among the top ten in minutes played this preseason. I would venture to guess these players are almost locks to be in the opening day line-up. Of the players not going the full 90 you had 3 players play 69 minutes, Kenny Cooper, James Marcelin, and Brian Umony. Kenny is a lock to start but the other two may have been out there to see how well they played with the other potential starters.
The real question is who is going to play in the middle and on the left side of the midfield or right side of the defense. You can see this because of the 4 players who split time in those two positions. Those 4 players were Steve Purdy, Adam Moffat, Sal Zizzo and Peter Lowry. Moffat and Lowry are central mids while Purdy and Zizzo play on the outside. However Purdy plays outside back while Zizzo plays outside mid. Most likely Hall moved back into an outside back position while Zizzo took the left outside mid.
So the possible opening day line-up looks like this
Possible changes are up top, with Jorge Perlaza coming in for Brian Umony. In all honesty this line-up looks competitive, but is it a line-up that makes the play-offs? Maybe not, but that is a discussion best revisited after this team has played a few meaningful games.