The Portland Timbers finish off their time in Tucson, AZ today with a preseason friendly against Real Salt Lake. In the wake of the Timbers' 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders, a game that saw the Timbers' first team play sixty minutes as a unit, expect things to get switched up in this one as the second team gets a longer run out and different personnel potentially get a chance to work together.
With today's match falling into the Timbers' usual "let's try something out" slot in their preseason progression, don't be surprised if the team run out a starting lineup that is primarily composed of their second string players and potentially even get some of the T2 players on hand involved in the game.
While the likes of Kharlton Belmar and Akinjide Idowu are certainly interesting in the long term, however, it is the potential to get the first glimpses of Darlington Nagbe and Chris Klute on the pitch in 2016 that will be the high point in this one. Nagbe, of course, has just returned to the Timbers after spending the start of the preseason with the United States Men's National team, for whom he appeared in both of their winter friendlies, going 29 minutes in each game as the US beat Iceland 3-2 and Canada 1-0. Klute, meanwhile, has yet to get on the pitch for the Timbers after getting off to a slow start due to some necessary recovery time from an offseason meniscus repair.
Nagbe seems like a lock to make an appearance here after plenty of time getting fit with the USMNT, while Klute is still a question mark, with few updates available about his progression since heading to Tucson.
If the Timbers do want to try mixing things up amongst the players who have been making regular appearances as well, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Lucas Melano has featured almost exclusively on the left wing so far during preseason, despite being given license to roam, and could be given a look on the right wing or even up top. Similarly, Zarek Valentin is another versatile player that has only featured at left fullback so far this year and could potentially switch over to his more natural spot on the right side or be given a look at his tertiary position at center back. Other possibilities include playing Ben Zemanski as an out and out defensive midfielder, Jermaine Taylor at left back, and giving any of the team's young forwards -- Michael Seaton, Ben Polk, and Neco Brett -- the chance to play the No. 9 spot rather than lining up out on the wings.
Watch it on: Streaming on Timbers.com
Kickoff: 10:30 a.m. PT at Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, AZ
Portland Timbers: Finished No. 3 in the Western Conference in 2015, 15-11-8
Real Salt Lake: Finished No. 9 in the Western Conference, 11-15-8