Welcome back to the Forecast! It’s September, and with the earlier playoffs this year, we are definitely into the stretch run. Just seven matches left, and most of the league has even fewer.
After the previous two weeks, the Portland Timbers got a welcome win over visiting Real Salt Lake. It was only by a score of 1-0, and there are certainly negatives, but we’ll focus on the positives for now. For one thing, Portland kept a clean sheet; the last time they managed that was in July. For another, it’s always a good day when Diego Valeri scores a goal, and even better when it’s the first and only goal of the match. Also, Steve Clark continues to make excellent, necessary saves in goal. And lastly, it was a six-point sort of win, in that RSL is one of the other teams PTFC is contending with for a playoff spot, and the Timbers gained some ground.
Briefly, on the downside, the Salt Lake attack generated at least as much offense as the Timbers did, even though it was in Providence Park. And if Portland didn’t have Steve Clark, or if Nick Rimando were a few years younger, PTFC might not have taken three points. Plus, Renzo Zambrano got himself a red card and will have to sit out a match. Nonetheless, there are pieces from this match that the team can build on going forward.
Pick of the week goes to MindfulCyclist, who got the 1-0 scoreline correct along with a Valeri goal for a total of 11 points. STYLES34 continues to gain on Timbers Pride, closing the gap to 11 points.
Standings Match 27
This weekend, the Timbers will host Sporting Kansas City, who come to town just three points behind P-rtland and riding a three-game winning streak. Between injuries and international call ups, the two teams are expected to have a combined 16 players unavailable for the match — nine for the Timbers and seven for SKC. PTFC has just enough true defenders to start, but won’t have any on the bench: Larrys Mabiala, Zarek Valentin, Julio Cascante, Marco Farfan, and Modou Jadama are all hurt. Because of international call-ups, three of the Timbers’ central midfielders will be gone as well: Renzo Zambrano, Cristhian Paredes, and Andres Flores are all with their national teams. Lastly, the Timbers continue to miss Jeff Attinella, who is out for the season recovering from shoulder surgery.
Even though Kansas City are missing fewer players overall, the ones that are gone may be more important to the team. All three of their leading scorers will miss the match: Felipe Gutierrez is out on yellow card accumulation, and Johnny Russel and Krisztian Nemeth are on international duty. In addition, SKC is missing Gianluca Busio — who’s been a solid contributor with three goals — to the US Men’s National Team, and Rodney Wallace to injury. So while the Timbers’ back six are hurting, it’s SKC’s attack that might falter.
Now, regardless of who’s missing and who’s not, Portland’s past regular-season results against SKC have not been stellar. In the all-time match-up, SKC has actually won more matches in Providence Park than PTFC has, and they have successfully shut out the Timbers multiple times. That said, this is not the SKC defense of past years, as they’ve conceded 45 goals in 2019 — more than 1.5 goals against each game. Can the Timbers take advantage and get their attack back in sync?
Total Cards O/U: 5.5
The Scoring Format:
- Correct score: 5 points
- Correct result (draw/win/loss): 3 points
- Each clean sheet: 2 points
- Each goal-scorer: 1 point
- Each FK/PK/assist/lack of assist: 1 point
- Goal/assist bonus: 1 point
- Player with the first yellow card of the match: 1 point
- Each player with a red card: 1 point (You cannot earn points for predicting 0 red cards, but you may predict up to 3 players with a red.)
- Over/under on total cards: 1 point
Some ground rules and explanations/clarifications (the fine print):
You may amend your prediction at any point up to kickoff to account for game day 18 announcements. I recommend at least getting an initial prediction sooner, just in case you forget to come back in that hour or two before the game.
Keep your scoreline predictions realistic. Basically, if you’re predicting lots of goals all the time to just earn points on goals and assists and ignoring the score, I feel that goes against the spirit of this thread. This hasn’t been at all a problem in the last few years, so let’s keep it that way!
The goal/assist bonus is an additional point if you correctly get the correct scorer and assistant on the same goal. (For example, if Blanco scores, assisted by Valeri, and you predicted that exact combination, you get a total of three points: 1 goal, 1 assist, 1 bonus.)
Please be clear whether you think a goal will be unassisted, assisted, or from a PK/FK: Unassisted = no assist, run of play; Assisted = player who got the assist; PK/FK = directly from a free kick. For the purposes of this thread, a PK counts as an FK, and an FK as a PK. Just like predicting a player assist, you earn an assist point if you correctly predict an unassisted or free kick goal. If you just leave the assist section blank, I will assume you’re declining to make an assist prediction.
Even though a player can be awarded a secondary assist by OPTA, I will award a maximum of one assist point per goal. But that point can come from either the primary or secondary assist in the box score. However, please keep your predictions to one assist per goal.
For the over/under on cards, a second yellow leading to a red counts as two cards, not three.
You may predict more than one red card if you’re expecting a chippy match, but only up to three total.
If you’re looking for where I set the over/under on total cards, check the end of the preview paragraph after the standings.
In the comment title, post your predicted score with the winners; for example, 4-2 Timbers
In the body of your comment, start with the goals and assists, like so:
Valeri (Free kick)
Graham Zusi (Free kick)
Krisztian Nemeth (Johnny Russel)
Next, choose your first yellow card, and that means picking only one person:
First yellow to Matt Besler
Then reds, if any. (NOTE: No points awarded for correctly calling a red-card-free match, so take a guess.):
Roger Espinoza gets a red card for stomping Blanco.
Clearly note whether you’re predicting over or under on total cards. Don’t leave me to try to figure it out!