By Will Conwell
The game starts at 6:00 PM on KPDX. 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 @ Colorado Altitude
Game 15: Portland Timbers (4W-6L-4T) @ Colorado Altitude (6W-8L-1T)
Saturday, June 30, 2012 @ 6 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 3/19/11 3-1 Away Loss, 6/11/11 1-0 Home Loss
Listen/Watch: KPDX, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com
After their big win over the Seattle Sounders last Sunday the Timbers are flying high an will look to carry over their new found confidence to this weekend’s game against the Colorado Rapids. The major topic of discussion for any team visiting the mile high city is the altitude and it’s effects on athletes but the Timbers have been adamant this week that they will not let the height an the heat (it is forecast to be 90 today in Denver) drag them down.
The Colorado Rapids were the Timbers’ first opponents in Major League Soccer, and so far they have not had much luck. With two losses in two games against the Rapids, the Timbers will be hoping to get their first MLS victory over Colorado today. While the Timbers looked totally outclassed in the two teams’ first match, the second was a close thing with Colorado defender Drew Moore scoring the game’s only goal in stoppage time to give the Rapids the win.
This season, Colorado has struggled to find their form and currently sit in sixth place, only three points ahead of the Timbers. Colorado is a team that has suffered from numerous injuries that have forced them to give significant minutes to their usual reserves. However, the Rapids are finally getting a number of players back healthy this week and, if the right personnel are available, could pose a serious threat to the Timbers. Rapids center backs Marvell Wynne and Drew Moor are both converted wing backs and form one of the league’s better defensive pairings when healthy. Moor is healthy and ready to play, but speedster Wynne is still recovering from a hamstring sprain and is only listed as probable on the MLS Injury Report.
Up front the Rapids also have one of the league’s better forward pairings in Omar Cummings and Conor Casey, who lead Colorado to their MLS Cup victory in 2010. However, since that season both forwards have consistently struggled with injury and, although both are approaching game fitness, Casey and Cummings are both still recovering from injuries themselves. If Colorado can get all four of those players on the field they will find themselves a much improved side from their lackluster performances earlier in the season.
Of course, the Timbers are not without their own personnel issues. Although the Timbers list of injured players is possibly shorter than at any other time during the club’s tenure in MLS, players are still missing. Eric Brunner, who picked up a concussion against the Vancouver Whitecaps before the MLS break, is still feeling concussion-like symptoms and has not been cleared by the league to play. Kalif Alhassan, who has not yet managed more than a game and a half without getting injured this season, is also out again after picking up a sore hamstring after tormenting the Sounders in the Timbers’ last game.
While they are healthy and fit to play, Hanyer Mosquera and Lovel Palmer are both currently suspended thanks to their play in recent weeks. Mosquera was retroactively suspended for three games after he was caught on camera punching LA’s Jack McBean in stoppage time of the Timber’s 1-0 loss. Mosquera will miss one more game after today. Lovel Palmer was given a red card and the associated one game ban for elbowing a Seattle player in the head as a shoving match broke out at the end of last Sunday’s game against the Sounders.
Luckily, despite missing both first choice defenders and a first team winger, the Timbers have developed the depth to compensate for their losses. David Horst and Futty Danso held down the center admirably against a talented Seattle attack on Sunday while both Sal Zizzo and Eric Alexander have shown their value out on the wing this season and either one could step in for Alhassan.
On offense, the Timbers have got to match up well against a solid Colorado defense. While either Danny Mwanga or Mike Fucito could start alongside Kris Boyd, it should be Fucito who begins the game. Assuming Wynne is able to play, the Timbers will need someone with speed and tenacity to wear down Wynne, who is a great athlete. Wynne, especially after missing several games, has been known to make some mistakes in his positioning and Fucito is just the man to take advantage of that.
On defense, the Timbers will need reign in Diego Chara. While Chara’s all action performances have been impressive all year, he has often run himself into the ground by the eightieth minute, something that the Timbers can ill afford in the high altitude of Colorado. If Chara can pace himself and remain a threat for the full ninety, the job of the Timbers defense will be that much easier.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Kris Boyd – 5
Darlington Nagbe – 3
Kalif Alhassan – 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – 1
Eric Brunner – 1
David Horst – 1
7/3 vs. San Jose Earthquakes
7/7 @ Real Salt Lake
7/14 vs.Los Angeles Galaxy
7/18 @ Chivas USA
7/21 @ FC Dallas
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Jewsbury (RB), Horst (CB), Futty (CB), Smith (LB)
Songo’o (RM), Nagbe (CM), Chara (CM), Zizzo (LM)
Boyd (F), Fucito (F)
The Timbers won what could be a pivotal game against Seattle last weekend, now they need to make a statement by showing that they can win away form home as well. This possibly healed up Rapids team could put up a serious fight and the Timbers will need to show some defensive resolve to bring a point or three back to Portland.
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.