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Storylines: Houston Dynamo vs Portland Timbers

The Timbers head out on the road to Space City.

MLS: Houston Dynamo at Portland Timbers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Story So Far

The Timbers are coming off a convincing 2-0 win over the hapless Colorado Rapids. It was a two-assist night for Sebastian Blanco, and Jeremy Ebobisse picked up his second career goal and the first of the season. The Timbers now have some more confidence behind them as they head out on the road to Houston to take on the Dynamo. The Timbers are 3-5-5 on the road and will be looking to improve.

While the Timbers will becoming off a win, the Dynamo will be coming off a bye week following a 4-2 loss to interstate rivals FC Dallas. With a long rest and some home cooking, the Dynamo are going to be looking to shake off that loss.

Orange Slices

Wilmer Cabrera’s club is mired in a 10 match winless streak, seven of those matches being losses, and they’re slipping farther out of playoff contention. The Dynamo currently occupy 10th place in the West with 28 points. According to our pals over at Dynamo Theory, most of the streak can be firmly laid in the lap of Carbera.

There are a lot of places to find blame for what’s gone on over the past 10 games, but the place I find most is with the tactics of Wilmer Cabrera. I think the squad, as currently assembled and with the current injury situation, can compete in this league. However, I believe Cabrera is over thinking how to manage each game and the strategy and the starting lineup against FC Dallas this past weekend is a good example of that.

That pretty much sums up what’s going down in Houston right now. With their streak and iffy tactics, they could be ripe for the picking.


Houston Dynamo (7-13-7, 28 pts)

Historically this season, the Dynamo have deployed a 4-2-3-1 formation, they’ve used it 21 times. Against FC Dallas he rolled out a 4-3-3, though it looked more like a 4-3-1-2 at times. Cabrera seems to be tinkering with formations and the lineup as he looks to get players healthy and back on the pitch.

On that note, they are currently without the services of A.J. DeLaGarza (he’s lost for the season), midfielder Juan David Cabezas, and forward Mac Stevens. On the bright side, DaMarcus Beasley is alive and kicking; I think they put him in cryofreeze after each game and then thaw him out in time for kickoff.

One of the Dynamo’s major problems is their defense, which is sloppy, slow, and mistake prone. I think this team really misses DeLaGarza, who can marshal that back line. They were really hit by the mistake bug against FC Dallas, even the highlights are hard to watch. And with the formation that Cabrera rolled out, there was a lot of space between the defenders and the midfielders and FCD took full advantage.

Here’s what Wilmer Cabrera said after that match in regards to the defense.

“We’re going to continue working, we’re going to continue fighting because we cannot be forgetting how to defend, how to work together,” Wilmer Cabrera said. “We need to come back and we have to give us the option to show ourselves. Now it’s about pride, to prove ourselves that we can come back, we can play and we can avoid making so many mistakes.”

If I were Cabrera, I’d probably go back to my 4-2-3-1 where they have a record of 6-6-9 when deploying that formation. The 4-3-3 has only been used four times this season and it’s resulted in a record of 1-0-3.

Portland Timbers (12-7-8, 44 pts)

So, how about Jeremy Ebobisse?

The question will be: Does Gio start him again or does Armenteros get his starting job back? Look at it this way: Armenteros has gone ice cold and could use a confidence boost and maybe a goal or two against Houston might do the trick. Though on the other hand, Ebobisse’s confidence has to be pretty high right now and might be worth a second run out, this time on the road.

Gio’s been known to deploy that three man back line on the road, and he might do so here. Or, he may just go with the tried and true 4-3-2-1 and be just fine. Player Of The Week Sebastian Blanco has been on fire as of late and I’d like to see him run riot on Houston.

Two players that the Timbers are really going need to look out for are: Mauro Manotas and Alberth Elis. Manotas leads the team with 14 goals and Elis isn’t far behind with 10. These guys can shred a defense and the Timbers would be wise to shut them down.

Log Slices

Timbers are averaging 1.63 points per game which is good for fourth in the Western Conference. They sit fifth on points tied with Seattle, though they’re in fourth due to goal differential.

With a win on the road, the Timbers could put themselves in third place in the West behind FC Dallas and Sporting Kansas City. They just need to hold steady and pick up as many points as possible as the season starts to wind down.

The Timbers will be without the starting services of Jeff Attinella as he pulled a hammy in the second half against the New England Revolution. This means that newly minted Portland Timber Steve Clark will start in net for the Timbers against Houston.

Here’s what Gio had to say about Attinella’s injury when he spoke to Jaime Goldberg of the Oregonian.

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s a lot better than we anticipated,” said Savarese about Attinella’s injury. “It’s something that we’re evaluating, but we think that it’s not going to take too long. It’s a matter of a few weeks. It could have been a lot worse, but for now it looks like it is something where he will be able to come back sooner than we expected.”

That’s good news as the team ramps up to the playoffs. This was my concern as hamstring issues can be dodgy at best and the one thing you don’t want to do is rush it and risk making the injury even worse.


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