By Will Conwell
The game starts at 7:30 PM on KPTV Fox 12. If you do not have cable or want a good Portland establishment to enjoy with friends, we have a couple suggestions from our sponsors.
Watch Timbers Games in Portland:
East Burn (East Burnside & 18th) | (503) 236-2876 | More info: www.theeastburn.com
East Burn will have the game on a large projection screen on their heated patio and also downstairs. Recess discount menu from 3-6PM. They have daily drink specials (pdf of specials here).
Blitz (Ladd, Pearl, Tigard, NW 21) | More info: blitzbarpdx.webs.com
Blitz's FOUR locations will be happening as always with tons of televisions, drinks specials, and games (ping pong, shuffleboard, buckhunters, horseshoes in Tigard, and more).
Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs Chivas USA
Game 4: Portland Timbers (1W-2L-1T) vs Chivas USA (1W-3L-0T)
Saturday, April 7, 7:30 p.m.
Previous match-up(s):6/4/11 1-0 Away Loss, 8/24/11 1-0 Home Win
Listen/Watch: KPTV Fox 12, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com
FREE BUS RIDES TO GAMES: Ride Blitz Bus To Portland Timbers Games | FREE Rides from Blitz Tigard & Ladd to Jeld-Wen Field
The Portland Timbers take on Chivas USA today in a match up between two teams in need of a win. Both teams have only won one game out of four played and will be looking to get their season’s back on track.
The Timbers, who have not won since the home opener against Philadelphia, looked good to take all three points against Real Salt Lake last Saturday, but were denied any points from the game after allowing two goals in the game’s last eight minutes. The Timbers controlled play for much of the game and created many more chances for long stretches of play. However, the team bunkered down in the final minutes and, thanks to a few mistakes, were picked apart by a strong Salt Lake side.
Chivas, meanwhile, are coming off of a hard fought loss against Sporting Kansas City. Like all of their matches so far, the game against Sporting finished 1-0 and, while Chivas never looked likely to win, they stayed in the game until the very end. Committed performances like this have been the hallmark of Chivas’s season so far, putting them on top of the league defensively with only 3 goals allowed. However, where Chivas’s defense has seen success, their offense has suffered in equal measure, scoring only one goal in four games.
The Timbers will need to be patient and creative in possession of the ball if they want to unlock this stingy Chivas defense. Luckily, this week sees several players returning from injury who should be able to help. Kalif Alhassan, who was out with a groin strain against Salt Lake, will be available for selection. Alhassan will likely not start, but his creative passing and willingness to make things happen on the wing could be an important factor as a late-game substitute. Franck Songo’o, who saw some time against Real, will likely start this game on the wing after coming on as a substitute last week.
The debut of Songo’o in the starting line up will lead to another key change for the Timbers; Darlington Nagbe looks set to displace Jorge Perlaza as Kris Boyd’s partner at striker. Although Perlaza’s runs consistently created space for his fellow players against Real Salt Lake, his finishing has just not been effective this season as he squandered two golden chances last Saturday. Nagbe, currently the Timbers leading scorer, brings to the position a passing ability and finishing touch that have been on fire this season.
Despite the improving fortunes of Alhassan and Songo’o, the Timbers are still hard hit by injuries. Midfielder James Marcelin will miss today’s game with a strained hamstring, while the center of the defense remains empty of options with Futty Danso, David Horst, and Hanyer Mosquera still out, leaving Eric Brunner and Andrew Jean-Baptiste as the team’s only healthy centerbacks.
Chivas, for their part, will be missing designated player Juan Pablo Angel to concussion symptoms. Without Angel, Chivas is missing their first choice striker but rookie Casey Townsend, Chivas’s loan goal scorer this year, will provide a hardworking presence up top.
At the back, Chivas has been heavily dependent on the goalkeeping of Dan Kennedy, who leads the league in saves, and the leadership of United States national team player Heath Pierce. Usually playing a 4-5-1 formation, Chivas have been successful at getting a number of players behind the ball, contributing to their excellent defensive record.
On offense, all eyes will be on Darlington Nagbe and Eric Alexander to replicate the stellar performances that they put in against Real Salt Lake. Against a packed in defense, their ability to create space for themselves and create chances for others will be key to a Timbers victory. Franck Songo’o will also need to put his impressive dribbling skills to the test to keep pressure on Chivas. The Timbers will also want to focus on getting in early crosses to Nagbe and Kris Boyd, both of whom are threats in the air, in order to prevent them from getting bogged down in Chivas defenders.
On defense, the Timbers will need to maintain their concentration for the entire game. Throughout last season, the Timbers had issues with closing out games and those issues were raised again during Portland’s last minute collapse against Salt Lake. To keep the team defending well for 90 minutes, the Timbers will need Eric Brunner to lead the defense effectively, not just organizing them but also pushing them forward as the Timbers have a tendency to sit deep late in the game which gives the other team the initiative.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Darlington Nagbe - 3
Kalif Alhassan - 1
Kris Boyd - 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste - 1
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Palmer (RB), Brunner (CB), Jean-Baptiste (CB), Wallace (LB)
Alexander (RM), Chara (CM), Jewsbury (CM), Songo’o (LM)
Boyd (F), Nagbe (F)
This is the sort of game that the Timbers need to capitalize on if they want to make the playoffs at the end of the season. While Chivas is strong defensively, the Timbers have shown that their offense is one to be reckoned with. The Timbers have the ability to break Chivas down if they can put in a full 90 minutes of effort.
Pipeline's Portland Timbers coverage by:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.