Tomorrow afternoon the Timbers will walk out of the tunnel in Orlando to face the Houston Dynamo. In game 2 of group play, the Timbers and the Dynamo sit 2 points apart after the Timbers 2-1 win over the Galaxy and the Dynamo’s 3-3 draw with Los Angeles FC.
So the good news is that they leak goals. The bad news is they can score them too. Against LAFC, they took a 3-1 lead on the back of two goals from Memo Rodriguez and one from Alberth Elis. In the first half, homegrown player Rodriguez feinted a shot that made Latif Blessing of LA leave his feet before he took a touch, steadied himself and beat keeper Kenneth Vermeer at his near post. His next goal was a rebound of a point blank save from Vermeer after a dangerous cross from *eyes starting to water, Zarek Valentin.
Across the frontline, the Dynamo boast plenty of pace and trickery between Mauro Manotas and Darwin Quintero playing with Alberth Elis. In defense, the Dynamo were happy to allow LAFC to have the ball as they sat back and absorbed pressure but ultimately, the ability of the California side to play through the low block of the Dynamo’s midfield meant trouble. All three LA goals came from acute passing on or near the top of the box.
The Dynamo’s against LA would have been ideal for a playmaker and finisher like Sebastian Blanco. If Houston insist on sitting back and waiting for a counter attack, the Timbers can exploit them if they have patience and wait for a penetrating pass in the attacking third. The outside backs for Houston, Valentin and Swede Adam Lundqvist were left helpless when made to come narrow. Even without wide players the outside backs were left out to dry by overwhelming numbers and the aforementioned trickery on the top of the box.
Expect to see Bill Tuiloma step into the center of defense for the suspended Dario Zuparic. Yimmi Chara and Jaroslaw Niezgoda both made substitute appearances and young Timbers Eryk Williamson and Marvin Loria both got the start against the Galaxy. Steve Clark came up huge in goal especially to save the penalty from marquee signing Javier Hernandez. With potent attacking threats on both teams, the match up should be entertaining for the neutral fan but if the Timbers are able to find their rhythm in attack, they should come away with another three points.
Kickoff is 5:00 pm PST. #RCTID