The Portland Timbers’ record setting road trip is almost over, but before the boys in green can return to the freshly renovated confines of Providence Park they will need to face off against the Eastern Conference leading Philadelphia Union.
Far from home, the Timbers will be taking on a Union side that lead the East in goals scored with 23 from 13 games, and are tied for second in the conference only 12 goals allowed in that same period. With eleven players (including David Accam, who was traded away to Columbus Crew SC) having scored a goal for them this season, the Union are a side that have so far proven to be greater than the sum of their parts.
To that end, it will be up to the Timbers to isolate the Union into individuals and exploit the weaknesses that reveals. With Diego Chara back in the lineup, the Timbers have the perfect player to throw a monkey wrench into the Union attack as the Colombian midfielder can take players or areas entirely out of the match as directed by Giovanni Savarese; by stripping down a key gear or two in the Union machine, the Timbers can grind the home side to a half.
On the other side of the ball, the Timbers are chock full of difference makers and it will be up to the likes of Sebastian Blanco, Diego Valeri, and the recently debuted Brian Fernandez to secure a moment or two of brilliance and break down a Philadelphia side that have shut out their opponents in four of their seven home matches so far this season.
A win in their twelfth road match of the season would put the Timbers even on points with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the San Jose Earthquakes, below the line, but still just a run of form away from being back in a playoff spot. More importantly, it would leave the side on more than a point a game on the road after the longest road trip in the history of MLS: a rate that would make them the fourth best road side in the West to date.
Storylines: “Fernandez scored his goal 12 minutes after entering the match (against Houston). It is the quickest goal ever scored by a Timbers player in his MLS debut. The previous record was held by Diego Valeri, who scored 14 minutes into his Timbers debut on March 3, 2013.”
And stop by the Rose City Forecast before kickoff to make your predictions about today’s match.
Watch it on: ROOT Sports
Where: Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, PA
When: Saturday, May 25th at 4:30 p.m. PT
Portland Timbers: 3-6-2, 10th place in the Western Conference, drew 1-1 at Houston Dynamo
Philadelphia Union: 7-3-3, 1st place in the Eastern Conference, drew 0-0 vs. Seattle Sounders