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Portland Timbers vs Chivas USA: Will the streak continue?

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The Portland Timbers currently have played Chivas USA four times in MLS league play and have only won once. In the four matches Portland has only scored two goals, giving up four. On top of all this Portland is riding a four game losing streak. None of these stats have instilled me with confidence that we will see a Portland win tonight, but Portland does have a chance.

In order for Portland to win there are a couple of things each position needs to do, one of which just got easier with Ryan Smith unavailable.

Defenders and Keeper

The Defense has really been the punching bag both on the field and in the media for giving up so many goals over the last 5 games. Some of the criticism is warranted, and some of it is not. Either way, the team needs to improve defensively and that starts all the way in the back with Troy Perkins. Perkins needs to be the field general and demand more of his defenders.

When I played growing up I had a keeper on my team who would go absolutely ballistic on me if I got caught ball watching. With our wings so young and prone to ball watching Perkins needs to let them know this is unacceptable. He also needs to help his defenders out as he has the ability to see the plays develop and let them know who is open and who is making a run.

The defenders have to actually show up and give the team 90+ minutes of defending. On too many occasions over the last 6 games we have seen Timber defenders give up on a play or look like they are giving less than 100%; this is unacceptable.

Midfielders

A lot of Portland's defensive problems stem from the midfield and not the back four. When the outside wings ballwatch and allow the opposition's outside backs to make a bombing run down the wing without following them, the outside backs then have to scramble to recover, making the outside backs seem at fault. The wings need to be better at following the runners to give the outside backs a chance to help them defend.

Offensively, the midfielders actually have to posses the ball instead just hoofing it up the field. Sometimes the defenders hoof the ball because the midfielders have not made the right runs to give them an outlet. If the midfielders move more off the ball, the defenders will have to hoof it up the field less, and the offense will flow better.

Forwards

The Forwards just need score when the opportunity comes. If Mike Fucito had scored early in the Dallas game, the game would have turned out differently.

Prediction

0-0 tie. Portland is just not doing well offensively and Ryan Smith is out for Chivas so they won't score.