Early morning game today and pretty unusual for a typical MLS game, to be honest. I'm not really sure what MLS ws thinking when they scheduled this one. This week just happens to work out gravy for us though because now we don't run into any sort of scheduling conflict with the USMNT game tonight on ESPN. On any other weekend I would be complaining...
Anyway, our second ever MLS game is against the team that lost, horribly, to our rivals last week. Not that we should expect them to just lie down and take a beating, however, as coming off such a grueling defeat is bound to call for some changes. Also, remember, we're still playing on the road while they're at home and they've got a fantastic supporters group who will be making all the noise the can to influence the game.
Should be fun!
Assessing Our Team
I already told you guys yesterday about the current injury report and that hasn't changed. Sal Zizzo remains probable, but probably won't start. My guess is he'll come on as a sub between the 65th and 80th minute barring any drastic game changes. Darlington Nagbe, Bright Dike, Eddie Johnson, and Troy Perkins are all out with injuries and won't be playing today at all.With that in mind, I'd like to change up our starting 11 a little bit from last week as I believe we saw a healthier second half than we did in the first half. Here it is:
Adin Brown; Rodney Wallace, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Steve Purdy; Jeremy Hall, Jack Jewsbury, Adam Moffat, Ryan Pore (maybe Sal Zizzo); Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza.
I took out Kevin Goldthwaite because I felt David Horst put on a much stronger, less aggravating performance last week and, while Kevin Goldthwaite is talented enough I'm not sure I want to trust our backline to him so readily.
Another removal was Peter Lowry who I actually believe is a fantastic player. When Adam Moffat came in, however, it felt like the entire midfield gelled a little better and we were creating more and better chances. A ne-game fluke perhaps, but I feel under these current circumstances Adam Moffat is the way to go this week.
No change up top, our forwards were solid for us last week and I expect Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza to be leading the charge for the foreseeable future barring any serious injuries.
Assessing the Enemy
That said, Toronto FC is one of the weaker teams in the league at the moment and I feel is very winnable for us if we learned our lessons. Not to say it will be an easy game. We are after all fighting a caged animal, so to speak. The fans, players and FO will be desperate this year for wins and that can often times make very dangerous enemies.
Notable players to watch out for are, of course, Dwayne De Rosario who will be leading the midfield and Maicon Santos the lead striker for the team. Both will be looking for chances at every turn.
The good news here is that Toronto FC's backline is pretty miserable, worse than our own, unless they've chanced something up. Hopefully this will give us some added help today.
Two teams that are each desperate for a win. Toronto FC will be playing to show that they aren't push overs and that they will be play-off contenders this year. The Portland Timbers will be playing to show that even as a "promoted" team they are competent enough to play in MLS. Given each team's weakness in the backend I foresee another high scoring game, although, in soccer anything can happen. Regardless I expect the Portland Timbers can win this if they work collectively this week.