The Story So Far
Dropped points and a own goal. Need I say more?
The Timbers went into Sunday on the back of two wins in a row and looking to make it a third. A botched clearance from Bill Tuiloma made the difference in this one. If you really want to find a silver lining for the day, it’s this: Technically, the Timbers didn’t allow D.C. United to score. Either way, it’s still dropped points — points that are desperately needed.
The New York Red Bulls are coming off a loss to the Seattle Sounders, who took care of business (unlike the Timbers), dispatching the Red Bulls 4-2. The lone goals from the Red Bulls would be scored by Aaron Long (27th minute) and Alejandro Romero (67th). Other than that, it was all Sounders.
With both teams deep in the playoff race, who will come out on top? Can the Timbers find it in themselves to put D.C. United behind them and secure all three points at home? Or will the Red Bulls come in and take care of business, once again leaving Timbers fans hungry for a win at Providence Park?
What to Watch for
New York Red Bulls (12-13-5, 41 pts)
The Red Bulls have now lost three on the trot and find themselves in sixth place in the East, just a point ahead of seventh place New England Revolution. They’re only four points out of fourth place, currently occupied by Toronto FC. So, I don’t think that Chris Armas and squad are going to phone it in on Wednesday. It’s getting down to the nitty gritty, and everyone is trying to go 100 miles an hour.
Chris Armas likes to deploy a 4-3-2-1, with Bradley Wright-Phillips leading the attack as the loan striker up top. Phillips for sure is one to watch: He is sneaky good, though he only has two goals to his name this season. But just because he hasn’t scored a lot doesn’t mean he isn’t still dangerous in and around the box.
23-year-old American Brian White is the player you really need to look out for. He plays out on the wing and is tied for the team lead in goals with nine. He didn’t start or make the 18 in Seattle because he’s listed as ‘questionable’ on the injury list, so we may or may not see him on Wednesday night — not seeing him would be great for the Timbers.
As a team, watch for the Red Bulls to try to keep control of the ball in the attacking end, and then attack down the wing, especially on the right side. Look for them to pump the ball into the box via the cross; against Seattle, they attempted 21 crosses in 90 minutes. Also expect them at times to bypass the midfield with long balls over the top to one of their forwards. While they don’t lump the ball forward a lot, it’s still something to be on the lookout for.
The Red Bulls are 4-8-3 on the road, allowing 30 goals and only scoring 22. So their road play hasn’t been the best in the world, and it showed Sunday night in Seattle. They kept the game close until Jordan Morris did Jordan Morris things to put the Red Bulls to the sword.
Once again, the Timbers will have to face one of the league's best goalkeepers in Captain Luis Robles. This season, he’s made 82 saves and faced 128 shots on goal. His goals against average is under two at 1.62. As I mentioned, he’s the captain and the heart and soul of this Red Bulls club.
Another player to watch is Daniel Royer. He’ll be in the midfield on one of the wings if he plays Wednesday night. Watch for a strong squad on Wednesday, as they rotated pretty well for Seattle. Anywho, Royer is tied at the top with nine goals and leading the team in assists with seven. So the Timbers will need to keep an eye on and try to contain Royer, who likes to come down the wings.
Portland Timbers (13-12-4, 43 pts)
With the Timbers loss on Sunday, they now find themselves in the seventh and the final playoff spot in the West. San Jose was able to leapfrog the Timbers with a win this weekend. But they only find themselves just one point out of sixth and only three points away from Real Salt Lake and that fourth place on the table, which would help the Timbers come playoff time. That’s if they right the ship.
No one can disagree that Sunday wasn’t the best performances we’ve seen out of the Timbers. According to Giovanni Savarese, though, the Timbers were the better team of the match but just couldn’t nick that tying goal. Of course the Timbers were missing both Sebastian Blanco (calf injury) and Brian Fernandez, who’s still suffering from a stomach virus; Zarek Valentin was also out, but not because of injury — he just became a new dad.
I would expect some rotation on Wednesday night, and it would be a good time to have Blanco and Fernandez return to the lineup. We may see a change or two in the back line on Wednesday as well. Marco Farfan was healthy enough to make the 18, so maybe he can give Villafana a much needed rest. While Julio Cascante has been ruled out with left thigh injury, Larrys Mabiala is listed as questionable. What I wouldn’t give to get Mabiala back in the lineup. He’s the heart of that defense, and it’s very noticeable when he’s gone.
It’ll be interesting to see if Gio keeps with the 4-3-3 or reverts back to the 4-2-3-1. Though I would like to see Christian Paredes back in the lineup instead of Any Polo, who just hasn’t been in a great run of form in a while and has been a liability on the pitch at times.
I think the Timbers are, once again, in a must-win situation. They were supposed to take advantage of all the home matches they been afforded, but they just can't seem to get the job done. Right now, the Timbers playoff chances are in their hands: Win and march up the ladder and hope to get a good seed for the post-season. Keep on the current trend, and they could find themselves sitting at home for the playoffs.
Diego Valeri hit the 200 starts mark with his start against D.C. United.
Jeremy Ebobisse played in his 47th consecutive match in all competitions, which is the third-longest active streak among all MLS field players.
Goalkeeper Steve Clark is currently seventh in the league in goalkeeper wins (12), with Tyler Miller of LAFC leading the way with 16.
The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC announced their Community MVP awards for the 2019 season at the ninth annual Stand Together Banquet held at The Nines Hotel in downtown Portland last weekend. Midfielder Sebastian Blanco and defender Zarek Valentin were recognized for the Timbers. These awards are given to the individuals who made a significant impact in the community, committing their time and efforts through the clubs’ community platform, Stand Together.
Currently, the Timbers are third in MLS with total shots; for shots on goal, they’re currently tied for eight place in MLS.