NWSportsBeat MLS Previews
The Portland Timbers (1-2-1, sixth in Western Conference) play host to Chivas USA (1-3-0, ninth in Western Conference) at Jeld-Wen Field at 7:30 in Portland today.
It is a match-up of two teams that have struggled early this season for opposing reasons. For Portland, defensive miscues have plagued the team as they let a home-lead against Real Salt Lake slip away in a 3-2 loss.
Meanwhile, Chivas USA has only scored once in four games as they defeated the same Real Salt Lake team 1-0 two weeks ago.
There are five themes that the Timbers must incorporate into today’s match in order to come away with a victory.
1). Seize Momentum on the Defensive End
Chivas USA has only scored one goal in four MLS games this season. Even the worst of teams are due to break out on the offensive end at some point during the season.
The lone goal of the season came on the road in a 1-0 victory over against Real Salt Lake, meaning that Chivas has the ability to score away from home.
Today’s match with Chivas is a classic example of old veterans against young guns. The Timbers, with an average age of 24.33 years old, are the third youngest of 19 teams in MLS, behind Toronto FC (24.30) and Philadelphia (23.31).
On the other end, Chivas USA,(27.04) rank 18th, only days younger than Montreal (27.05).
The youth of the Timbers legs should benefit their transition game and should be an asset if the team attempts to tire out Chivas.
3). Shots on Goal
In a 180-degree turnaround from their loss against the New England Revolution in which the Timbers failed to get shots on goals, the Timbers took advantage of opportunities on the offensive end in their 3-2 loss last week at home against Real Salt Lake.
This will be imperative if the team hopes to come away with a point today.
4). Score First
It sounds simple enough, but the squad has failed to score first in every game this season. Earlier this week, Timbers’ midfielder Jack Jewsbury emphasized to Portland reporters that the team had stressed this point heading into today’s match.
Against an anemic Chivas offense, the Timbers should be position to snap this streak.
This will ignite the Timbers Army
5). Refusal to Look Ahead
Chivas is the worst team in the Western Conference standings, tied with the LA Galaxy (which has only played three matches compared to Chivas’ four).
The record is not indicative of a total team failure on both ends of the ball, in which Chivas has played consistent defense in the first four matches.
The team ranks fourth out of nine teams in the Western Conference in goals allowed (three), compared to the Timbers who rank seventh (six goals allowed) in that category.
Once Chivas figures out how to get the ball in the back of the net consistently, the team should climb the standings.
This season, the Timbers are 1-1-0 at home and have the same record in night matches. The all-time series is 1-1-0 with both teams recording 1-0 shutouts at home in 2011.