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Rivalry Week: Portland's map to success

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Look for KFC and company to use their heads and score on continue scoring on set-pieces (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Look for KFC and company to use their heads and score on continue scoring on set-pieces (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
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John Spencer has really put a lot of emphasis on the fact that the Portland Timbers need to get rid of the label "Can't win on the road". To do so Portland needs to not concede early and keep it's defense shape. As with most Sigi Schmid led teams Seattle does like to have possession of the ball and to pass it around, a lot like Real Salt Lake, however they were, before the injury to Steve Zakuani, a very dangerous team on the counter.

What we will most likely see is the same mentality from Portland as we have seen in the last two league games, both 1-0 wins (albeit at home). Portland will cede possession to Seattle in Seattle's defensive third and force them to try and break Portland's defense down. Meanwhile Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza will do their best to put pressure on the backline of Seattle and not let them try and set up the perfect pass.

More after the jump.

Portland will allow Seattle to try and send balls through the air looking for their forwards as they feel Eric Brunner and Mamadou "Futty" Danso will be able to win any of those balls. Nate Jaqua will be the perfect counter to Brunner or Futty but he has yet to find his form, so who knows if he will be effective or not. The longer Portland holds Seattle out of the goal the better for Portland's scoring chances. 

Seattle does tend to become frustrated and play tight when they are unable to score. When they do become tight they do foul and this sets up Portland to get a goal. Portland has had 12 goals on the season and of those 8 have come from a set-piece (free kick or corner kick). Portland has feasted on the set-piece.

The stat of the day is that Seattle has committed the most fouls in all of the MLS. Again not everyone has played the same amount of games but here is the fouls committed and suffered table:

Club

GP

FC

Per game

FS

Per Game

Seattle Sounders FC

10

152

15.2

110

11

Vancouver Whitecaps

10

148

14.8

129

12.9

Toronto FC

10

127

12.7

122

12.2

New England Revolution

9

125

13.888889

115

12.777778

Chicago Fire

8

119

14.875

102

12.75

LA Galaxy

11

118

10.727273

141

12.818182

Philadelphia Union

8

113

14.125

98

12.25

Colorado Rapids

9

112

12.444444

124

13.777778

Columbus Crew

8

110

13.75

137

17.125

Houston Dynamo

9

106

11.777778

105

11.666667

Chivas USA

8

105

13.125

88

11

D.C. United

9

95

10.555556

105

11.666667

FC Dallas

9

94

10.444444

127

14.111111

Sporting Kansas City

6

90

15

79

13.166667

New York Red Bulls

8

89

11.125

80

10

Portland Timbers

8

84

10.5

113

14.125

San Jose Earthquakes

8

76

9.5

86

10.75

Real Salt Lake

6

68

11.333333

70

11.666667

As you can see Seattle is at the top of the list in total fouls and in fouls committed per game. Portland on the other hand is bottom of the league in fouls committed but near the top in fouls suffered. Now fouls don't mean a thing unless they are in a dangerous spot, so lets take a look at who is committing those fouls.

Player

POS

FC

FS

Osvaldo Alonso

M

19

9

Leo Gonzalez

D

17

6

Fredy Montero

F

15

19

Patrick Ianni

D-M

11

1

Nate Jaqua

F

11

1

Erik Friberg

M

10

7

O'Brian White

F

9

3

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado

D

8

6

James Riley

D-F

8

3

Jeff Parke

D

7

2

Alvaro Fernandez

M

7

10

Mauro Rosales

M

6

13

Steve Zakuani

M

6

3

Roger Levesque

F

6

5

Brad Evans

M

5

4

Servando Carrasco

M

4

1

Tyson Wahl

D

3

1

As you can see the player who commits the second most fouls for Seattle is one of their defenders, if this trend continues Saturday night Portland has a good chance of scoring. Not only that but 3 out of their top five in fouls committed can foul in a dangerous spot which again bodes well for Captain Jack Jewsbury.