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Match Day Thread: San Jose Earthquakes @ Portland Timbers [7:30 PM]

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Not three days later, here we are already getting ready for a new game. This one's a bit different than the usual affair however as we'll, instead, get to see our Portland Timbers take on the San Jose Earthquakes in the second of three play-in matches for the U.S. Open Cup tournament.

For those of you who have no idea what the U.S. Open Cup is it is, basically, a nation wide tournament consisting of American teams from MLS, USL Pro, USL PDL, USASA and NPSL. Yes, that's five divisions of soccer you see there. You can read more about the U.S. Open Cup over on my Teaching Timbers thread.

You'll also notice that the Division 2 league, the NASL, is not listed. This is because they weren't able to organize fast enough to be included in the tournament this year. They should have no problem participating in 2012 though.

Finally, this is a game for the tournament itself, rather, this is for one of two "play-in" spots available. Should the Portland Timbers win tonight we'll still have to play the Chicago Fire, at Jeld-Wen Field, to actually participate in the tournament.

Anyway on with the match thread:

Assessing Our Team

Coming off a fantastic win against the league favorites, Real Salt Lake, on Saturday was a huge victory for the Portland Timbers. So much so that I'm pretty sure the entire team is feeling the confidence heading into tonight's game. They'll need a strong win tonight to keep that confidence going for Friday's regular season match against the Philadelphia Union.

Of course, tonight probably won't be the same team we saw playing against Real Salt Lake on Saturday. Truth be told, many of our regular starters will probably need a rest and we certainly don't want too many of our starters exhausted for a surprisingly strong Philadelphia side on Friday. As such here is my project starting line up:

Troy Perkins; Rodney Wallace, Kevin Goldthwaite, David Horst, Jeremy Hall; Freddie Braun, Ryan Pore, Diego Chara, Rodrigo Lopez; Spencer Thompson, Jorge Perlaza

Troy Perkins will be in goal, is my guess, since he could probably still use some minutes, although I'd love to see Jake Gleeson again. David Horst is listed as "Probable" in the injury list which makes me think he'll probably be used in this game as a tester.

Finally, you'll notice that I put Diego Chara in. While it might seem a little much just throwing him in so many games so fast, fact of the matter is that we need him to gel quickly with Jorge Perlaza and his other team mates fast. While it might make him a little vulnerable on Friday due to exhaustion, the more minutes our new Designated Player gets the better.

Assessing the Enemy

I already put up a shorter-than-usual preview of the San Jose Earthquakes earlier today. I suggest reading that if you're interested in knowing more about the team.

Suffice it to say, however, San Jose is a very hot and cold team. They currently look to be fairly cold as they're coming off a few consecutive losses. However, they still have a couple key players that the Portland Timbers should look out for in Bobby Convey and Chris Wondolowski. While I doubt either will be starters tonight, it should still be taking note of that both players are very dangerous.

Aside from that I'm not terribly worried. I'm expecting a mostly-reserve team to be fielded tonight similar to our own.

Final Predictions

It's a little difficult to make a prediction when both teams are expected to field reserves. Still, I'm not anticipating a loss for the Portland Timbers tonight. There's just too much going for them with a win last weekend and playing at home again. That said, no game should ever be taken as a give in. San Jose will most likely be looking to restart their winning ways with a U.S. Open Cup victory tonight. Let's hope they don't get what they want.

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Tonight's game is not being broadcast on television. Instead the Portland Timbers will show a live stream broadcast of the match, or you can listen live on 95.5 The Game. Tonight's match kicks off at 7:30 PM. Tickets are still available, I believe.