Big game for the Portland Timbers this morning as they aim to prove that they can keep their winning "streak" alive as well as win on the road, something that has proven to be quite the challenge for them since they joined MLS last season. Even more important, however, is the fact that this will be the first and only time this season that the Timbers will face off against the Montreal Impact which means getting three points here is doubly important given that their will be no chance for redemption. Something to think about...
Of course, given that the Timbers recently defeated best-in-the-league Sporting Kansas City, there is the hope that they'll be able to leverage their new found confidence in a win against one of the worst teams in the league. Let's hope it plays out like that...
Assessing Our Team
The big news heading into tonight's game is the Timbers' two recent acquisitions: Mike Fucito and Steven Smith. The former will not be seeing game time today due to a deal struck with Montreal when the trade was initiated. Additionally, Smith will not be eligible to play until his ITC comes in which, to my knowledge, hasn't been confirmed as arriving yet. So don't get your hopes up on seeing either player today.That said, the Timbers will have their squad that defeated SKC wich should help them out a bit. Steve Purdy, who was pulled out early last Saturday, is not listed on the injury list at all which means he should be eligible. In fact, the overarching good news here is that, for the first time this season, the Timbers have less than four players on the injury list with only Kalif Alhassan, Jake Gleeson and David Horst remaining on the list.
Figuring out the starting line up will be a little difficult this week, but here's my go at it:
Troy Perkins; Steve Purdy, Eric Brunner, Hanyer Mosquera, Mike Chabala; Darlington Nagbe, Lovel Palmer, Jack Jesbury (c), Diego Chara; Kris Boyd, Jorge Perlaza
I really enjoyed Palmer playing in the midfield last week and I suspect so did head coach John Spencer so I expect we'll see a similar line up as last week.
Assessing the Enemy
Fist, as usual, if you haven;t done so yet please check out both my own preview interview as well as Ryan's breakdown on how the Timbers can win against Montreal. Both are sure to give you a better insight into the team the Timbers face today.
Aside from that, what's there really to say about Montreal? They're a new MLS team from the former NASL/USL era as with the Portland Timbers and Vancouver Whitecaps so there's definitely a history here. In fact, from 2002-2010 the two teams played against each other 15 times and the Timbers completely dominated them with an 8-4-3 total record and a 4-1-2 record in Canada... impressive to say the least.
Aside from that the team is still very much trying to figure itself out, as the Timbers were this time last year so really the game could go in any direction. It's a little challenging trying to figure them out right now.
Here's their predicted starting line up:
Donovan Ricketts – Tyson Wahl, Matteo Ferrari,Shavar Thomas,Zarek Valentin – Davy Arnaud, Collen Warner, Felipe Martins, Justin Mapp – Sanna Nyassi, Bernardo Corradi
Today's match is a game that the Timbers can easily win if they play with the same defensive mentality as against Sporting Kansas City. Of course, playing against a team such as Montreal is always a dicey prospect as you never know what you're going to get. They're still trying to figure out what works so everybody else is still trying to figure out how they work... it's a vicious cycle.
Still the Timbers can win today and I expect them to. I desperately want to be in the double digits of point allocation.
Today's game is on PDXTV (KPDX) at 11:00am at Stade Olympique in Montreal.
One last thing, I'm actually out of town on business today so I will be missing the live game. As such, from 11:00am on I'm on a media blackout until I catch the game tomorrow morning. See you guys then!