The Portland Timbers have had their struggles on the road this year, going 3-6-1 away from the confines of Providence Park. Now, with the Timbers heading on the road to take on FC Dallas this weekend, the team is in need of points if they want to stay in the race for the top of the Western Conference.
Leading up to the match, new arrival Lucas Melano is on the verge of joining the Timbers' gameday roster and, according to head coach Caleb Porter, the newly arrived Argentine could be a perfect fit for what the team will need to do if they want to get the full three points in Frisco. The problem, of course, is that Melano might not be available for the Timbers by Saturday.
"We haven't received [Melano's international transfer certificate] yet," Porter told the press on Wednesday. "We are hoping to have it in the next day or so. We might end up traveling nineteen guys just in case he is not cleared."
With Melano's ITC hopefully in the mail from Argentina, it remains to be seen if it will arrive in time for the Timbers to get their new arrival into the lineup against Dallas.
Regardless of Melano's availability, the Timbers will need to present an organized, defensive front, Porter told the press after practice on Wednesday.
"I think we really need to focus on keeping this game really compact and tight," said Porter when asked about how the Timbers can get results on the road, "stay organized and disciplined, pick our moments to attack and to find the goal."
Porter continued, "we need to make sure that we manage our lines, manage the tempo, and that we keep things really tight and we remain compact and we remain patient. If we give up an early goal like we have in recent road games it makes it very difficult."
With that approach in mind, Melano could give the Timbers' a significant threat that can get the ball down the pitch and provide a real scoring threat within moments of the team turning the ball over, something that the Timbers have rarely been able to profit from with any regularity.
"He's the perfect player for that type of game," said Porter about Melano's potential role against Dallas. "As soon as the ball turns over, he can gobble up forty or fifty yards quickly so you have to be aware of him at all times because when the ball turns over he can get behind you."
Melano may have played most recently as a lone striker for Club Athletico Lanus, but the Timbers have looked at him as either a striker or out on the wing, a position that he has played previously as well.
"He's a great player wide or up top because with space to run he is going to do very well in that type of game. If a game gets open and it is box to box he'll do well in that kind of game. He'll also do well if we don't have the ball and now he is the guy that counters because he gets behind defenders with his pace."