By Will Conwell
The game starts at 6:00 PM on KPTV. 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).
Portland Timbers @ FC Dallas
Game 20: Portland Timbers (5W-10L-4T) @ FC Dallas (4W-10L-7T)
Saturday, July 21, 2012 @ 6:00 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 3/17/12 1-1 Home Draw
Listen/Watch: KPTV, 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
With another woeful road game under their belts the Timbers are now tied for last place in Major League Soccer and are in danger of finishing the season with the dreaded wooden spoon. Today’s match up against FC Dallas gives the Timbers one of their best remaining chances to snap out of the funk that has gripped this team since the start of the season. Dallas are tied with the Timbers on nineteen points this season and, like Chivas on Wednesday, have struggled at home with only three wins in Frisco this season.
The Timbers will have the same line up available to them as we saw in Wednesday’s game in California, a rarity this season, but after the ineffective shifts put in by a number of players it seems unlikely that the team will stay the same. The Timbers’ most likely change is the insertion of David Horst back into the central defense for Futty Danso as general manager and interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson will look to rotate his central defenders to keep them fresh during this short but intense road trip. Franck Songo’o also stands a good chance of getting on the field after putting in a good shift against Chivas USA, but who will come out for him is less clear. Jack Jewsbury and Darlington Nagbe were both ineffective on Wednesday but both have rarely been held out of the side since last season.
To shore things up at the back, the Timbers will almost certainly be making some changes to their back four. Futty Danso will help bring a calmer, more measured approach to the center of the defense over the enthusiastic and physical presence of David Horst and will hopefully help the Timbers keep their defensive shape. At the left back position it seems possible that presumed starter Steven Smith will be pulled for veteran Mike Chabala who will likely spend less time going forward. Finally, the most impactful change to the Timbers’ line up will be the return of standout midfielder Diego Chara to the line-up. Taking the place of Lovel Palmer in the center of the pitch, Chara will add something both on defense and in the attack.
Opposite the Timbers, Dallas also find themselves struggling. With star winger ad forward Brek Shae not at practice today, FC Dallas fans will be wondering where their scoring opportunities will be coming from. Panamanian striker Blas Perez has been effective for the hoops this season but will miss today’s match due to a sprained ankle, while young Colombian designated player Fabian Castillo will have to sit this one out due to yellow card accumulation. David Ferreira and Ricardo Villar, the teams pair of effective attacking midfielders are both probable but each has missed serious time this season.
On offense, Kris Boyd has show that he can produce, so now it is time for someone else on the team to step up and score some goals. The only player other than Boyd with multiple goals on the season for the Timbers is Darlington Nagbe and he has not scored in the over 1300 minutes that he has played since March 31st against Real Salt Lake. With Gavin’s favored formation being the 4-2-3-1, it will be up to the advanced midfielders to chip in a goal or two in order to keep pressure off the team’s loan striker. If this paragraph seems similar to last week’s that is because it is. The Timbers have been utterly ineffective other than Boyd and someone else can start scoring the Timber are not going to have a chance of working their way up the table.
On defense, the Timbers need coordinate. On Chivas’s lone goal on Wednesday, the Timbers found their back line being pulled all over the place. After Steven Smith was beaten on the wing, Futty Danso hesitated to back him up, allowing Chivas’s Ryan Smith to get the ball across where it fell to Miller Bolanos who was left unmarked as Kosuke Kimura moved inside. The Timbers had a number of other defensive miscues throughout the game, precisely the sort of mistakes that winning teams will take advantage of.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Kris Boyd – 7
Darlington Nagbe – 3
Kalif Alhassan – 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – 1
Eric Brunner – 1
David Horst – 1
Danny Mwanga – 1
Jack Jewsbury – 1
Kosuke Kimura – 1
7/24 vs. Aston Villa (Friendly)
7/28 vs. Chivas USA
8/5 vs. FC Dallas
8/15 @ Toronto FC
8/19 @ New York Red Bulls
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Kimura (RB), Horst (CB), Mosquera (CB), Smith (LB)
Alexander (CDM), Chara (CDM)
Alhassan (RM), Nagbe (CAM), Songo’o (LM)
The Timbers are not completely out of the running for a playoff spot just yet, but until they can post a win on the road they are not even moving in the right direction. In Dallas the Timbers will face an opponent that is beset by injuries, suspensions, and plain hard luck and the Timbers will need to take advantage each of those factors to get anything out of this season. The Timbers will have every opportunity to win this game, but will not do so if they continue showing the same rough road form as we have seen during the rest of the season.
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.