The Story So Far
12 straight across all competitions; how’s that feel folks?
To say the Timbers had a big weekend is an understatement. They snagged their first MLS win at Seattle and a Larrys Mabiala brace. With that win, the Timbers have record of 7-0-3 in the last 10 MLS matches and currently sit fifth in the Western Conference.
After a brief trip up I-5, the Timbers return home to face the last place San Jose Earthquakes, who are currently on an eight game winless streak. Their last result was a 3-3 tie against arch-rivals LA Galaxy. This will be the second time (in MLS) the Timbers and Quakes have met this season, the first being back on May 5th in San Jose. Diego Valeri netted the game winner and the games only goal in the 88th minute.
Let it be known that the Timbers have never lost to San Jose at Providence Park.
Over the course of the 2018 MLS season, San Jose Head Coach Mikael Stahre has used six different formations. He seems to have settled on a 4-4-2, having used it 12 times this season, and most likely will use it again come this weekend.
The two top scorers for the Quakes are Danny Hoesen with 10 and six by the ever present and 155 year-old Chris Wondolowski. Wondo is actually just five goals behind Landon Donovan as the leagues all-time top goal scorer. He just came off his 20th multiple goal game in that draw with L.A. Galaxy.
Look for Florian Jungwirth to be the lone defensive mid with his midfield partner Anibel Godoy pushing up into the attack more. I would expect with two banks of four that the fullbacks won’t get too high in the attack.
As far as the Timbers go, I think I may give up trying to guess what formation Gio is going to roll out. The last two weeks I’ve been off the mark, from a three in the back get up, to a 4-4-2 diamond last week. And seeing as we’re at home, who knows what we’ll see. Though whatever formation it is, I’d expect Armenteros to once again get the start especially if he goes with the diamond.
Early in the week, Adi was listed as questionable, but has now been taken off the injury list which would leave me to believe he’ll be available for selection against the Earthquakes. Only three Timbers remain on the injured list as “Questionable” : Roy Miller(!), Sebastian Blanco and Cristhian Paredes; the latter two listed with a right thigh injury.
With Polo back, I could see him starting in the place of Paredes, if Paredes isn’t ready to go. The other question with Ridgy not being on the list is who starts at center-back. With Cascante doing well, does he bench the player that’s been playing on a regular basis or go with a guy that hasn’t played in a few weeks. As it was said in the best baseball movie ever, Bull Durham, “You don’t f**k with a streak”.
The Timbers have the chance to nail down a 13-match unbeaten run across all competitions. After a terrible start to the season the Timbers and Giovanni Savarese have turned things on their head and things are coming together. I look back at a couple pre-season articles that just skimmed over the Timbers (Doyle, I’m looking at you).
With a win, the Timbers could leapfrog RSL into fourth place. The only reason Real Salt Lake is in 4th is due to their having played three more matches than the Timbers. Climbing the table with games in hand is a nice place to be.
While nothing should be a ‘gimme’, the Earthquakes are 1-5-3 on the road and, like I mentioned, they just don’t win at Providence Park. That shouldn’t change at the end of 90 minutes this weekend.
The Timbers are playing fantastic football right now; whatever Gio is doing it’s working and I don’t want it to stop. This team is only going to get better as the season grinds on. It’ll be a test in the dog days of summer if the Timbers can continue this run of form. I’m pretty confident we’re on the path to the playoffs.
Who starts at Center-back?
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