The story so far...
After a dismal and often frustrating road trip to start the season, the Timbers took care of business, winning the last two matches at home, including beating the best team in MLS (Thank you, NYCFC!). Now after enjoying time at home, the Timbers take their 0-3-2 road record to San Jose where the Earthquakes are having troubles of their own. The Earthquakes hope being home will kick start winning ways, while the Timbers are there to spoil the party.
The Ridgy Factor
With Bill Tuiloma listed as questionable for Saturday’s match, that means Liam Ridgewell will most likely be paired up with Larrys Mabiala. After being in the doghouse after his performance against Energy Drink FC, he finally saw the field in a start against NYCFC, minus the armband. And it looks like (at the time of this writing) that he’s not the Captain. Diego Valeri has been wearing it, and when he was subbed out against NYCFC, he gave the arm band to Diego Chara.
In a recent interview with our friend at The Oregonian, Jamie Goldberg, Giovanni Savarese said that “Everyone deserves to wear it”. I’m really not sure how to take that, though I think he was being obtuse on purpose. Right now, it seems that Diego Valeri is the Captain - which to be honest I don’t have a problem with. Could we see Ridgewell with that armband this weekend? Possibly. But I wouldn’t bet on it.
Shake, Rattle, and Roll
The Quakes are off to their worst start since 2011.
Their only win this season was in the season opener against Minnesota United, and they haven’t notched a W since. A lot like the Timbers, they’re hoping to collect on being at home. They welcome a Timbers squad that are 1-4-4 lifetime when it comes to visiting the friendly confines of Avaya Stadium. In 2017, their home was a fortress, so much so that they rode their home results to a berth in the playoffs.
As we know, the MLS mantra is win at home, nick a few points on the road, and qualify for the playoffs. So far, things aren’t looking up for the Earthquakes, though they just about have an identical record from last year at this time and they still made the playoffs. Though, having a 0.71 ppg average won’t get you into the playoffs.
In case you were wondering, yes, Chris Wondolowski is still playing football. The 35 year-old has just a goal and assist while his strike partner Danny Hoesen leads the team with 3 goals. As a whole, the Earthquakes have scored 12 goals and have conceded 15.
The Timbers have conceded just one less goal than the Quakes, but they have scored the same amount of goals.
Taking Care Of Business
David Guzman seems to be on the mend and is in St. Louis with T2 as he gets his fitness up to what seems to be a return to the first team. The Timbers, honestly have been better without him and I see him at this point as more of an bench option until he (possibly) gets back into the starting XI.
I’m sure we’ll see the 4-3-2-1 Saturday night as it seems to be Gio’s favored formation and one of his most used aside from the 4-2-3-1 according to WhoScored.com. Though the Timbers are 0-3-0 when using that particular formation (4-2-3-1), for which they conceded 9 goals in that span. Yikes. He might go with the 4-4-1-1 with Valrei right behind Adi that beat NYCFC. My gut says he goes with a more defensive posture on the road.
Sebastian Blanco and Diego Valeri are the top scores so far this season, with 4 and 3 goals respectively. They should be able to prey on the San Jose backline as they’re going through a definite rough patch and are ripe for the Timbers to take advantage of. And while San Jose is at home, they haven’t been drawing home numbers and it’s been a slightly different atmosphere than last year; which I’m sure has nothing to do with the way San Jose have started the season.
San Jose’s form, for a lack of a better term, sucks, and they’re returning home after falling to Columbus 2-1 last weekend. Is this, dare I say, a kick them when they’re down situation? The Timbers are going to be fresh. They’ve had an extended period of being at home, sleeping in their own bed, and seeing the family. After this, of course, they come home to face the fishing village to the north. So this needs to be a smash and grab, get some points on the road and head back home. Hopefully San Jose won’t know what hit them.