The Story So Far
The Timbers finally stopped the bleeding in a 2-0 win over Toronto FC on Wednesday night. There are a lot of positives to be picked up in that match, and some adjustments that need to be made. But all in all, it was a great night to have had.
Big thanks to Diego Chara and David Guzman for their goals. Both goals were awesome, but it’s something to see Michael Bradley get his pocket picked so close to his own goal. The Timbers now find themselves back above the playoff line in 6th place, one point out of 4th and with a two point lead on the Seattle Sounders who sit currently in sixth. And only 6 points out of first, where FC Dallas rule the roost in the West (at the moment).
The Revolution dropped a result against the Philadelphia Union over the weekend and they now find themselves out of the playoff hunt in seventh place in the East. They’ll be looking forward to some home cooking and to hopefully catch a travel and short rest weary Timbers squad. Or will the Timbers improve their road record and climb the standings?
The Old Colony
Brad Friedel has slowly brought this club along and they are now just outside looking in at a playoff spot despite their current run of form. In the last 10 matches, the Revs have gone 1-6-3. They’ll be looking towards stopping the current run of form and what better way that to do that than at home.
The New England Revolution are within sniffing distance of the MLS Playoffs, just four points out of a playoff spot. And like the Timbers are fighting like hell to get into the playoffs, because after that anything can happen. But the only thing that both these teams can do, is face each match as it comes.
New England Revolution (7-10-8, 29 pts)
Brad Friedel likes to run a high pressing 4-2-3-1, with striker Diego Fugundez occasionally playing as a false nine, so look for him to drift into the midfield from time to time. As far as offense goes, Teal Bunbury leads the team in goals with 11. So it could be either Bunbury or Fegundez that gets the start up top, both equally dangerous and it’ll depend on what kind of mood Friedel is in.
Be on the lookout for their high press, they bring a pretty high line and offer acres of space behind the back four. If they lose the ball they will counter-press to get the ball back. While other teams do this well, the Revs are still working on the mechanics of said press. Hence all the space behind for the Timbers to exploit.
They play with plenty of width and like to take the ball down the right side of the pitch. Once they get near the box look for crosses, crosses, and more crosses. They also like to sometimes hit the long ball over the top to maybe catch teams sleeping. They’re also known to take a lot of shots, so the defense is going to have to be alert.
They’ll go long periods without the ball and more than happy to sit a press to get the ball back. On defense, they sit too deep at times in their own end which leaves the opposing team with a lot of space to work with. They create chances, but their finishing is what needs some serious work.
Portland Timbers (11-7-7, 40 pts)
If the Timbers can put on a performance like they did at home on Wednesday night against the reigning MLS champs, they have a good chance of walking out of New England with three points, even if their road record isn’t the greatest (3-5-4).
I would suspect that they’ll come out in a 4-3-2-1 as it seems that’s what Gio has gone back to after some experimentation. With the short turn around I would suspect we’ll see some rotation with the squad, though in interviews Gio has been pretty cagey about just how much he’ll rotate, which makes me nervous.
Asked Gio about squad rotation, he was a bit avoidant but recognized needing “a team that is fresh and ready to be able to compete.” #RCTID— Isaac Harris (@isaacfharris) August 30, 2018
I would suspect that Jorge Villafana will get the day off after going 80 minutes on Wednesday night. There is the possibility of a Lucas Melano start, with the team possibly being rotated. Melano looked good in his cameo and I wouldn’t be mad if he got the start to give Armenteros a breather.
While this looks like it could be three points, we have to remember that the Revolution have had a full weeks worth of rest, playing last Saturday. So I believe it’ll be a bit of an up hill battle with New England being fully rested and the Timbers going on short rest. It’s going to come down to how much he rotates.
Jeff Attinella’s clean sheet on Wednesday was his seventh of the season, tied for the fourth-most ever by a Timbers keeper in a MLS campaign. Speaking of keepers, New England’s keeper Matt Turner is third worst in the league in save percentage with 57.1%.
It was nice to get all three points against TFC, with the Timbers going on the road the club has only one win in their last five matches (2L-2D). So it’s time to pick up some points on the road and continue to get back into the playoff race. I like to see the Timbers in a position where there is less worry about the playoff line - but the West is a tight one this year and it could come down to the final day.
I know that Gio’s mentality of “every game is a final” might lead to light rotation, though I think he should do a bit more than that. It’s getting to the grind part of the season and if some of these players don’t get some rest it spells bad news. I think that the New England Revolution are the perfect remedy for the Timbers’ road woes of late.