Heading into tonight's match is about more than the three points that the Portland Timbers desperately need. It's about vengeance. It's about restoring the pride that a team like the Timbers should have given the city that loves them so much. With FC Dallas having outplayed Portland twice at home in embarrassing fashion (4-nil last year, 5-nil just a couple weeks ago) it's time for the Timbers to return the favor and deal Dallas the same kind of humiliating defeat.
The problem, unfortunately, is that the day's weather won't be conducive to what the Timbers are used to as time has proven they struggle when somebody turns the heat up, literally. Dallas, on the other hand, contends with this kind of weather for months on end so it will certainly be interesting to see how the two teams stack up.
Made even worse is the fact that kick off is at 4:00 pm which is just about at the height of today's temperatures at around 90 degrees. It will certainly be fun for those who are sitting in the sun. Be sure to hydrate as much as possible before and during the game!
Anyway, on to the previews!
Assessing our Team
The Portland Timbers are coming off yet another defeat at the hands of Chivas USA. With all three games over and done with, it appears that both LA teams were able to nab the full 9 points each from the Timbers. That's certainly not something to be proud of, especially as both teams have struggled this season.
The big news heading into tonight's game is whether or not we'll see Eric Brunner return to his normal position in the center back. Nobody can say for certain whether we'll see him out on the field today, but his return should be exciting nonetheless. With the defense in disarray since... well ever... it's important to have such a promising defender back in contention for the starting position.
But let's return focus on the midfield for a minute. last week we saw more Gavin Wilkinson tinkering as he desperately searches for something that works. In it we saw him put together a 4-3-3 with both Jack Jewsbury and Diego Chara sitting in a CDM position with Darlington Nagbe in the CAM position just behind Kris Boyd. While it didn't actually pan out, it was arguable that the Timbers were the better offensive side over all last weekend. They just didn't convert. My guess is that we'll see a similar line up tonight, but with perhaps a couple minor changes.
Here's my predicted starting line up:
Troy Perkins; Kosuke Kimura, Futty Danso, Hanyer Mosquera, Steven Smith; Diego Chara, Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury (c); Kalif Alhassan, Kris Boyd, Franck Songo'o
Assessing the Enemy
Rinse, repeat since two weeks ago. Seriously, there's not much more for us to say here, but we did manage to put together some preview material for today's game:
Check those out. Otherwise, there's not much more for me to add here.
Right now, the goal of the Timbers should simply be to not be the worst team in the league. I know some could argue that Toronto FC deserves that moniker still, but the fact is that we're dead last in the league and it's embarrassing. While the play offs, r even Cascadia Cup could be a goal for the season, I would really rather just see the team inch closer to relevance in league play. That all starts with 3 points tonight.
Oh and if the Timbers want to put up like 5 goals or something... that would be nice.
Tonight's game kicks off at 4:00 pm at Jeld Wen Field. You can watch it LIVE on TV on NBC Sports Network.