By Will Conwell
GAME 15: Portland Timbers (5W-6L-3T) at FC Dallas (8W-4L-4T) Saturday, June 25, 5:30 p.m. ROOT
Previous match-up(s): 4/17/11 3-2 Portland
The Timbers will face the heat in Dallas as both the climate and the Hoops pose serious obstacles to a Timbers club in need of a win.
Portland’s last victory came four weeks ago now and the Timbers will be desperate for the full three points. Two improved performances in the last two games have seen the Timbers come away with only one point as finishing and concentration continue to be the club's weak points.
The Timbers will be returning a similar line-up to the one they used against New York. However, they will be without the services of defender David Horst who is out with a hip flexor injury. Futty Danso may return to take the center spot, although he will be a game time decision. If Futty is not available, Kevin Goldthwaite or Steve Purdy, who played center back for FC Dallas in 2009 before being waived, are possible starters.
FC Dallas, after rocketing to the top of the Major League Soccer standings, is coming off a harsh 4 – 1 loss to Sporting Kansas City. They have also lost the services of their speedy forward Fabian Castillo to a call-up to the Columbian U21 National Team. Another player Dallas is missing is David Ferreira, last year’s MLS MVP, who was injured the week after the Timbers faced FC Dallas in their second home game at Jeld-Wen. However, the Hoops still boast an impressive attack that includes one of MLS’s hottest young players in Brek Shea, who has 6 goals on the season including goal of the week nominees in the last two FC Dallas games.
The Timbers attack seemed to finally click in the second half of the game against New York after several matches where they failed to create chances on goal. The Timbers will need to keep up their production while limiting the late game mistakes that have plagued them all season. In particular the Timbers’ defense needs control the ball on clearances rather than simply kicking the ball away down the field. It is this lack of control that has given teams like the Red Bulls chances to steal points that the Timbers should have.
At the other end of the pitch, the Timbers’ attack will need to continue the dynamic movement that led to Sunday’s three goals. Two of the goals once again came from dead ball situations but they were caused by the Timbers forwards being aggressive. If the Timbers can continue this offensive pressure then Kenny Cooper and Jorge Perlaza will find themselves scoring once again, something that needs to happen for this Timbers team to be successful.
The Timbers have an issue at the penalty spot. So far the team has converted one out of four attempted penalty kicks, all taken at home in front of the Timbers army. Kenny Cooper’s attempts at trickery and finesse may have baited the keeper of the line early, but they were wholly unsuccessful and particularly disquieting for a player that has scored goals with such power and skill in the past. Captain Jack Jewsbury did have success shooting with power after taking over the penalty duties, but his penalty miss against New York, where he placed it off the post rather than burying it into the back of the net, was a huge blow to the team. The Timbers need to have a definite plan going forward for penalty kicks as they should almost always be converted.
LEADING GOAL SCORERS
Jack Jewsbury – 4
Kenny Cooper – 3
Jorge Perlaza – 3
Rodney Wallace -2
Mamadu ¬Å“Futty¬Â Danso – 2
Eric Brunner – 1
Kevin Goldthwaite – 1
Stephen Keel – 1
NEXT 5 MATCHES
7/2 vs Sporting Kansas City
7/7 vs Club America
7/10 vs Seattle Sounders
7/16 @ Chicago
7/20 vs West Bromwich Albion
The Timbers have every opportunity to come away with a point tonight but they will need to keep up the aggressive play that they showed in the second half of the last game. Containing the Dallas attack and breaking effectively will be the keys to the game for the Timbers.
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Will Conwell is an aspiring novelist who spends his free time unloading trucks in warehouses. His passions in life are soccer, beer, and writing, which he has found are best enjoyed in concert. Will can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.