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Storylines: Portland Timbers vs New York Red Bulls

The Timbers look to take three points from the visiting Red Bulls.

MLS: Portland Timbers at New York Red Bulls Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

The Timbers traveled to Toronto, where the wheels fell off in spectacular fashion - sending the Green and Gold back to the pacific northwest with something to think about. The less we rehash the better, though on the brightside Diego Valeri notched his 50th goal with the club.

The Timbers have returned home to get ready for a hot Red Bulls squad, who are going on limited rest after their U.S. Open Cup match with FC Cincinnati. Can the Timbers take advantage of tired legs and claim all three points? Or will the Red Bulls trample the Timbers in their home yard?

Running With The Bulls

In league play, the Red Bulls are 5-1-0 in their last six and nine of the last eleven. Over that same stretch, the Timbers have just two wins (2-2-2). These are two teams on opposite paths.

The New York Red Bulls: Fighting for supremacy in the East and sitting just 9 points out of the race for the Supporters Shield, though it’s not likely that they’ll be able to catch either Toronto FC or bitter rivals New York City FC.

The Timbers: 5th place in the West, just a point behind FC Dallas for 4th place. The bright side is that the Timbers are still in the playoff hunt. Still, our PPG (1.36) needs some help as it has us in sixth place.

The problem is if the Timbers keep on their current run of form they won’t make the playoffs. Then all hell is going to break loose in Soccer City USA. You’ve got to imagine at some point Caleb Porter’s seat is going to get a bit toasty, right? He’s safe for the time being because we’re still in the playoff hunt, but that could change.

Bulls On Parade

The Red Bulls have been using a new formation that seems to be working for them: just look at their record in the last 6 matches. Jesse Marsch has been running out a 3-4-3, with Sacha Kljestan tucked in behind RBNY’s leading scorer Bradley Wright-Phillips (14g). They also run a very high press which, while effective, does leave a lot of space behind that the Timbers can exploit.

Unlike Toronto FC, the Red Bulls don’t attack down the middle. They often like to stretch the defence and play down the wings, but will sometimes use BWP as more of a target forward; something he does very well despite his smaller size. The Timbers need to force the ball into the middle of the pitch and cut out the wings.

One thing I noticed while watching the Red Bulls play NYCFC (they lost) and Orlando City (they won), is they are very susceptible to through balls. Over and over NYCFC was able to part the red sea and get through balls to Villa who then got a lot of nice looks on goal.

We might see some heavy rotation on Friday by the Red Bulls. Seven of their first choice XI played the full 120 minutes of their USOC semi-final on Tuesday night; where the Red Bulls battled from behind to advance to the final.

Soccer City USA

The Timbers are home for their next two matches before heading to Seattle for the Cascadia Derby. The toughest of the two matches is Friday against RBNY, then the following week it’s the hapless Colorado Rapids who just hit the eject button on Pablo Mastroeni.

Like you, I’d like to see six points in the next two matches, but I’d be completely happy with four. Anything less is, and should be, unacceptable.

Now is the time to not be dropping points, especially at home. The Timbers do enjoy home cooking; averaging 2.3 goals per match at home which is a really good sign when you compare the Red Bulls' average of just over a goal on the road (1.3 per match).

On the injury front: Fanendo Adi, Liam Ridgewell and Jake Gleeson are all listed as questionable. If I were a betting man, I’d say we’ll most likely see Adi, but Jeff Attinella will start in Gleeson's stead.


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