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Match Thread: Portland Timbers @ FC Dallas [5:30 PM]

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Today's discussion and preview thread is going up a little earlier than usual due to the fact that I'm leading a 4T Hike for a bunch of tourists in a couple hours and I'm not sure if I'll have the energy to do it when I get back. Luckily it's not raining.

Anyway, today's match against FC Dallas is, as usual, a must win for the Portland Timbers. After letting two points slide from their grasp against New York last Sunday, the Portland Timbers definitely need to get notch a win. It would also be beneficial for the team to get their first road win. Nobody will see them as a legitimate threat on the road until they starting winning.

So, without further ado, let's just int the match preview.

Assessing Our Team

The big question leading into tonight's match was whether our usual starting center back Mamadou "Futty" Danso would be back in action after dislocating his shoulder against Colorado. I'm sorry to say that it's looking very likely that he will not, in fact, be out there. I don't even think he'll dress as he was still listed on the "Out" section of the injury report and was most recently seen wearing a shoulder brace during training.

 

Additionally, it's looking like David Horst could be out at well with a hip flexor injury that he incurred against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday. This means that, in all likelihood we'll be seeing Kevin Goldthwaite take the reigns of the backline once more. When he came on in the second half of last week's game I believe he turned a few heads with his ability to score, but he still has a lot to prove defensively. Remember, while it was Rodney Wallace that accidentally handled the ball in the 93rd minute, it was Kevin Goldthwaite's inability to boot it out of play that started the incident in the first place.

Looking away from the backline, everything else should look more or less the same tonight. Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza will be playing up top as usual and, just as I've said in the last few weeks, it will be very important that at least one of them gets a goal in the run of play. While they're getting better offensively, they still lack that killer instinct to finish. Hopefully playing against a team they've scored on before will ease the situation a bit.

Here is my projected starting line up:

Troy Perkins; Rodney Wallace, Kevin Goldthwaite, Eric Brunner, Jeremy Hall; Kalif Alhassan, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsury (c), Darlington Nagbe; Jorge Perlaza, Kenny Cooper

Assessing the Enemy

FC Dallas is quite a different team than the one the Timbers faced off against back in April making them a little more challenging to predict, unfortuantely. What I do know, however, is that the Timbers will have a very difficult time shutting down and stopping one of their most important players: Brek Shea.

Back in April, for the first 60 or so minutes, FC Dallas' coach had Shea playing in a defensive position where he was largely inept, probably one of the reason why the Timbers were able to notch 3 goals against the MLS Cup runner-ups. When he was moved to the front it didn't take him long to notch that first goal. Suffice it to say, since that April game Brek Shea has been playing consistently up top with impressive results. Shutting him down will be very important to the game at large.

Looking back to the goal posts is, once again, Kevin Hartman, one of the more impressive goalkeepers in the league. He had a fairly bad game against Portland last time and I don't expect him, or his backline defenders, to be nearly as gracious. Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza will need to play better than ever today in order to break down a reorganized defense.

Final Thoughts

Tonight's game is a must win for the guys. With the Seattle Sounders pulling ahead in point and even the Vancouver Whitecaps starting to win some games, it's very important the Timbers get into gear and starting bring home some road points. At the moment Seattle is a full 10 points ahead with another game tomorrow at home against the New England Revolution. Granted they have four games on the Timbers, but I don't relish in the idea of needing four consecutive wins just to match Seattle.

As we approach the middle of the season games are only going to get more difficult so winning now would be better for everybody.

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Tonight's game is on Fox12 at 5:30 PM away from home.