It was nice having the Saturday off from a Portland Timbers game. Not that Timbers games are "work" or any such thing, but I do enjoy getting the chance to watch as many weekend MLS matches as possible as it helps me figure out just how well the Timbers are doing overall, especially in terms of tactics... The Timbers are doing okay.
Anyway, yesterday's series of games could have gone a little better for the Rose City. Not only did the Seattle Sounders win, putting them at 20 points, but the Los Angeles Galaxy also notched another win putting them at a staggering 29 points. Granted each team is at 14 and 15 games respectively, compared to the Timbers' 10 but still, I don't care for the huge gap in points. As such today's game is a must win in my book.
So, without further adieu, let's get to the match preview:
Assessing Our Team
The Timbers are currently coming off a nil-2 defeat against the Dutch powerhouse AFC Ajax. While this game was only a friendly, I'm hoping that whatever amount of overconfidence the team had about being undefeated at home was securely placed in check. Just because it hasn't happened yet, doesn't mean it's impossible and Jeld-Wen Field is certainly not a "fortress" as some have been referring it as of late.
Right off the bat there are a couple of interesting stories about today's game.
First, our mid-field is still looking a little shaky with both captain Jack Jewsbury and Darlington Nagbe listed as "Probable" on the injury list for groin strains. I still believe they'll be starting today, but I worry about either one getting seriously injured or pulling back a little at any given time for fear of causing more harm. In either case, it's something to watch.
The second story here is we currently field two previous D.C. United players as our starters: goalkeeper Troy Perkins and left back Rodney Wallace. This big one here is going to be Troy Perkins who many blamed for having an ill form during last year's abysmal D.C. United season. It would appear that since joining the Timbers Perkins is back at his previous levels prior to joining DCU. My hope is that he'll wish to show his former club that he's back in form by really giving it his all tonight.
Here's my projected starting line up:
Troy Perkins; Rodney Wallace, Mamadou "Futty" Danso, Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall; Kalif Alhassan, Jack Jewsbury (c), Diego Chara, Sal Zizzo, Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza
Assessing the Enemy
There's both good and bad news for today's game coming from D.C. United's camp. The good news is that Charlie Davies, the club's leading goal scorer won't be playing. The bad news is that Charlie Davies, the club's leading goal scorer won't be playing. At least not by all accounts I've read. This is both good and bad news because, on the one hand, Davies is a very dynamic and speedy striker who's got enormous technical skill which could certainly cause problems for Brunner and Futty. On the other hand, I don't know about you guys, but I've been a big fan of Davies since the 09' World Cup qualifying run. I was personally excited to see him play.
Regardless, he'll probably be missing from tonight which, in turn, will absolutely benefit the Timbers.
Two other players I'm looking forward to seeing are midfielder Dax McCarty and Perry Kitchen. Those of you who followed the off season will remember both of these players were two "almost Timbers" players.
Dax McCarty was very briefly a Timbers player after the expansion draft when he was selected first. Within a few hours, however, he was traded off to D.C. United for our left back Rodney Wallace. Back then it was seen as a huge blow to the Timbers given Dax's technical skill in the midfield. He was marked as a player Portland could build a team around. Today things are looking a little different with Wallace giving some amazing performances of late.
Perry Kitchen on the other hand was a player marked as a possible Timber due to his high placement on the SuperDraft pick. Had the Vancouver Whitecaps selected Darlington Nagbe as their first overall pick chances are that Portland would have opted for Perry Kitchen over Omar Salgado given the former's knack for control in the back.
Both players never came to be however and instead ended up in D.C.
Here's the predicted starting line up:
On paper, the Timbers have this one marked. They've played against and defeated stronger opponents than D.C. United in the past. Without Charlie Davies leading the attack D.C. United will be left without their best asset on the field which makes for an even easier match up. Still, no game is ever a 100%. D.C. United is currently in a slump and you can bet your ass they'll be looking forward to jump starting the mid season by conquering the "fortress" that is Jeld-Wen Field. Breaking any streak is good for a team.
Today's game kicks off at 2:00 PM. If you can't make it to the game you can watch it on KPTV, Fox 12.