The Portland Timbers begin their last road stretch of the regular season tonight in Seattle. They are in a four-way tie for 5th in the Western Conference, so it’s a bit crowded. Every point counts from here on out. These three matches will determine the postseason fate of the Timbers, though you have to be pretty bad not to make the playoffs now. Let’s not think about that. Let's think about sweet revenge up at the Clink.
The match against the fish at home was nothing to write home about. The defense was absolutely terrible and they haven’t gotten much better. It’ll be an uphill battle for points, and getting three points as the road team come few and far in between.
The Sounders sit in 2nd place in the division, just behind the Sporks, who sit atop the Western Conference. Even at that, the Timbers are only 4 points (along with a few other teams) off the top. The Seattle Sounders are coming off a 2-2 draw with Real Salt Lake and will be looking to take three points at home.
1. Simply: The defense has to be better.
I can’t draw enough attention to this: The defense has to pull their heads out of their collective asses and play like a cohesive unit. The loss to Seattle, the draw with RSL and the loss to the Galaxy — all could have been avoided if the defense just played better. And if wishes were horses, I’d have a pony.
Someone needs to step up and take control on that back line (I’m looking at you Larrys Mabiala). At times (to me at least) the defense looks like they’re don’t know what they’re doing. You have Jorge Villafana drifting so far inside at times that he might as well be a midfielder instead of a fullback. He seems to be playing catch up, which leads to him getting burned.
2. Give Sebastian Blanco the ball.
Play your hot hand. He’s been on fire, and I don’t think he’s going to slow down. While he didn’t get a full night off against the Galaxy, he came on and immediately changed the game. That’s how good Blanco is, and he’s trying to get it to his feet as much as possible. This is noting against The Maestro, Diego Valeri: He’s there to get Blanco the ball and take shots of his own. But I really think the more Blanco has the ball at his feet, the better the Portland Timbers are.
3. Don’t commit silly fouls.
It’s a derby, so there is an added level of intensity. But this doesn’t mean give in to the troll tactics of the Sounders. They’ll try to get the Timbers into silly foul situations, and then take advantage of said situation.
In other words: Don’t let them get in your head. With three matches remaining in the regular season and all of them on the road, it’s imperative that the Timbers keep a level head at all times. Seattle is going to play the role of antagonist — a role I think they relish when it comes to the derby with Portland.
Location: CenturyLink Field, Seattle Washington
Kick-off time: 7:00 Pacific / 10:00 Eastern
TV broadcast: Root Sports
Rival SB Nation site: Sounder At Heart
Radio broadcast: 750 The Game (English) and La GranD 1150AM/93.5 FM (Spanish)