The Portland Timbers are back from Kansas City and set to host their first match of the 2016 CONCACAF Champions League group stage tonight as Salvadoran side CD Dragon comes to town. Dragon, it seems, is next to impossible to scout so this match will be all about the Timbers and how they come to play.
According to head coach Caleb Porter at Tuesday’s training session, the Timbers are still putting a high priority on the CCL and that will be reflected in the side that they run out this evening. Still, with the Timbers slated to take on Sporting Kansas City on Sunday in league play and injuries still stretching the side thin, there will certainly be some squad rotation against Dragon.
The Timbers’ back line is the part of the team that has been hardest hit by injuries this year and that trent continues coming into this match. Nat Borchers is done for the season and Liam Ridgewell is still dealing with calf soreness, and now Zarek Valentin is out due to a knock picked up over the weekend. New signings Gbenga Arokoyo and Steven Taylor are not yet available for selection.
The Timbers do have one player joining the lineup now: new Lithuanian left back Vytas Andriuškevičius. Porter told the press on Tuesday that Vytas will get the start tonight and will likely go sixty or seventy minutes before being spelled by Chris Klute. Across the rest of the back line, the Timbers will, by necessity, be running out some combination of Jermaine Taylor, Amobi Okugo, Alvas Powell, and Taylor Peay. Andrew Thoma remains an option at right back, but his relative lack of first team experience seems to make him an unlikely candidate.
In the midfield the Timbers are much more healthy, but will still be missing two important players tonight. Darren Mattocks continues his recovery from injury and while his return to fitness has been remarkable, he is still not available to play. Ben Zemanski, meanwhile, picked up a knock against Kansas City on Sunday and is out for this match, leaving a hole in the center of the Timbers midfield. Going like-for-like, the Timbers will most likely plug in the Salty Dog, Jack Jewsbury, alongside Diego Chara at holding midfield.
Ahead of that classic pairing, the Timbers will likely bring in Ned Grabavoy in place of Diego Valeri, giving the Maestro a rare breather, with some combination of Jack Barmby, Darlington Nagbe, and Lucas Melano on the wings, and Jack McInerney stepping in for Fanendo Adi at the top of the formation.
Watch it on: The CONCACAF Facebook page
Kickoff: 7:00 p.m. PT at Providence Park in Portland, OR