As we all know, tonight the Portland Timbers will take on southern California side Chivas USA is round 2 of the Timbers' tournament. Tonight is an important game for both the Timbers and Chivas USA as each will want to prove that Monday's performance was a fluke, not a trend. Not to say the Timbers were terrible, but their performance left something to be desired. Chivas USA, however, fell 2-nil to Swedish side AIK.
In any case, heading into tonight's match there will be some key stories to follow from our end. First, as we know from John Spencer's quotes yesterday (via Will's training update) we will not be seeing either Kris Boyd, or Franck Songo'o tonight, unfortunately as both have minor injuries. Additionally, it looks as though Steve Purdy will not be able to play as Spencer had hoped given his injury sustained while on international duty.
One more thing before we break down each team. There will be NO live blog tonight. As some of you know, the CoverItLive! platform is something we are playing with and this is one of our tests without. If you prefer one or the other let us know in the comments!
Assessing Our Team
Heading into tonight's game there are a few questions that need to be answered based on what we saw last Monday. The first, of many, is how the left and right back positions are going to shape up. It's no secret that Mike Chabala didn't impress many on Monday, but that isn't necessarily indicative of his skill or place on the team. And with Wallace still out chances are we'll see him there again. So turning to the right back, we saw Kawoluk for most of the night on Monday with Lovel Palmer making a late appearance. My guess is we'll see Palmer start since Kawoluk is not yet officially signed and he appears to be recovering nicely from his injury.
Moving to the midfield, last week we saw a 4-5-1 formation which saw a crowded midfield, but didn't necessarily improve the possession of the team. My guess is Spencer will want to revert to his traditional 4-4-2 position with Jorge Perlaza and either Darlington Nagbe or Bright Dike up top. Personally, I'd prefer we saw some other combination with Brent Richards, but I don't see it happening.
One thing I'll be curious about is whether Sal Zizzo makes his first appearance tonight or not. Spencer mentioned that he's "not far away" from being ready during yesterday's training which means, at the very least, I think we could see him as a sub tonight. That's certainly something I wouldn't mind. I definitely missed his speed last Monday.
Here's my predicted starting line up:
Troy Perkins; Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Hanyer Mosquera, Mike Chabala; Eric Alexander, Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, Kalif Alhassan; Jorge Perlaza, Darlington Nagbe
GK: Jake Gleeson
DEF: Lovel Palmer, Eric Brunner, Andrew Jean-Baptiste, Chris Taylor
MID: Freddie Braun, Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin, Brent Richards
FWD: Bright Dike, Sebastian Rincon
Assessing the Enemy
I spoke with Alicia Ratterree yesterday about Chivas USA. If you haven't checked out the interview, I do recommend it because she clearly knows a thing or two about the southern California side. I'd also recommend reading some stuff over at her blog: The Goat Parade.
In any case, I'm not really sure what to expect from Chivas USA tonight. Being that it's a pre-season game I don't even know if we'll see the same players. Still, I hope we get to see some marquee players like Juan Pablo Angel who, while not officially signed, is pretty much guaranteed to land a spot on the team this year. And for those of you who aren't keeping record, he scored 7 goals in 9 games for them last season after being traded away from the LA Galaxy.
Also, as Alicia suggests, we'll want to keep an eye on Michael Lahoud and Ryan Smith. Despite the latter being a recent addition, apparently they've been gelling quite nicely with one another and have combined to create some great chances. Could be a good opportunity to see a couple rising stars in MLS and a future problem when Portland meets Chivas USA in the regular season.
Here was Alicia's predicted starting line up:
- GK: Dan Kennedy
- DEF: Matt Dallman (trialist), Rauwshan McKenzie, David Junior Lopes, James Riley
- MID: Laurent Courtois, Nick LaBrocca, Ben Zemanski, Blair Gavin
- FWD: Casey Townsend, Cesar Romero