A new era, an old enemy. Tonight's game is notable not only for the fact that this is a game with the former MLS champions the LA Galaxy, but also because it's the first game in the post-Spencer era. Tonight will be the test for the current Portland Timbers squad to see if they can handle the dramatic change in leadership, as well as the general shake up in the FO. It's also, however, a big test for interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson who is tasked with winning with a squad he largely assembled on his own.
With that said, let's take a look at each team:
Assessing Our Team
There's not too much news with regards to the team from last week. The ongoing sotry would be how well Franck Songo'o is doing since his at first serious, and now somewhat minor injury. According to Will's training reports he has been training regularly with the team so that's always a good sign. Additionally, a little birdy told me that not only is he going to start, but he's going to start in a forward position. An interesting idea...
Beyond that, I don't expect much change. Hanyer Mosquera returned last week and I fully expect him to start in the back along with David Horst, Steven Smith, and Kosuke Kimura. This of course, leaves Jack Jewsbury as the odd man out and with Wilkinson saying he doesn't plan on changing his role as captain that means he'll probably be starting in the center mid section once again.
Of course, this isn't as much of a problem since Diego Chara is suspended for today's game. The thought of him being absent tonight is a little scary considering he's our bruiser in the midfield. Still, with him gone I expect Lovel Palmer to take his spot. Yeah, I wouldn't say it's going to be a pretty game either.
Here's my predicted starting line up:
Troy Perkins; Kosuke Kimura, David Horst, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith; Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, Lovel Palmer, Kalif Alhassan; Franck Songo'o, Kris Boyd
An interesting set up, but these are also interesting times.
Assessing the Enemy
What can be said about LA that we haven't said already this year? Well, for one, since the season restart LA has been a much better team than they were before. Currently in 5th place they've won 3 of their past 5 games.
One thing I've heard is that David Beckham won't be playing tonight which would certainly soften up LA midfield a bit and make them less dangerous on set pieces and crosses. Unfortunately, I can't confirm that right now. That said, Junihno, LA's creative midfielder wont be there due to yellow card accumulation. So there's that.
All in all expect the same LA side the Timbers played twice already this year.
The Portland Timbers are currently undefeated at home in regular season play since April 7th. That's a good thing, but it can also mean overconfidence for the team. Luckily, with all the shake ups and recent road woes, I think the team is relatively safe from having an abundance of over-confidence problems. Additionally, just because they're undefeated doesn't mean they haven't gotten their fair share of home draws during that time.
Timbers Starting XI vs. LA: Perkins; Kimura, Mosquera, Horst, Smith; Jewsbury ©, Nagbe, Palmer; Alhassan, Boyd, Alexander
Subs: Bendik, Danso, Chabala, Zizzo, Fucito, Mwanga, Richards
lagalaxy starting XI: Saunders; Franklin, DeLaGarza, Lopes, Dunivant; Jimenez, Beckham, Sarvas, Stephens; Donovan, Keane
subs: Perk, Meyer, Gaul, Jordan, Garcia, Villarreal, McBean
Tonight's match is on NBC Sports Network at Jeld-Wen Field. The game kicks off at 8:00pm.