One for the road
Tied together in last place in the Western Conference with 19 points, this evening’s battle will be a competition to stay out of last place. With temperatures hovering 105 degrees, this match is sure to be one of the biggest endurance testers for both teams.
Kickoff: July 21, 2012 9:00pm EST
Dallas, Texas – KPTV
Por 5-10-4 (0-7-2 A)
Dal 4-10-7 (3-2-6 H)
The struggles of both these teams have been well documented throughout the year. On paper, they are nearly identical teams. They have each surrendered 30 goals while only scoring 19 (Portland) and 20 (FC Dallas) and have a fairly similar style of play. With a match between these two struggling teams, something has got to give.
In their past five games, FC Dallas only lost one game, tying three and winning one. After a near comeback against San Jose, Dallas will be looking to continue their recent impressive streak as they seek to climb the MLS ranks in the second half of the season. Led by David Ferreira, FC Dallas has been looking more and more impressive over their past few games. They have put together more quality minutes and been in contention to win each of their past few.
Look for FC Dallas to be able to take advantage of the intense heat as they play host to the Timbers tonight at their home field. They should be able to push forward their attack in the second half as Portland struggles to adapt tot he crazy heat.
Unlike Dallas, Portland has lost three straight while also losing four of their past five. After the jumped back into contention with a big win over the Sounders, Portland has faced a slurry of tough matches that saw them drop to a last place tie in the Western Conference.
After scoring three goals against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Portland failed to manufacture a goal against Chivas USA in a fairly sluggish match that did not see too much excitement.
Struggling to find an identity under new head coach Gavin Wilkinson, the Timbers will be looking to win their first road game of the season while also placing themselves back in the MLS win column.
Matchup to Watch: David Ferreira vs. Portland Midfield
After nearly returning to the same match form that led him to receive the accolade of MLS MVP in 2010, Ferreira will be looking to lead FC Dallas’ resurgent attack. Trying to stop him will be the Timbers midfield, specifically led by Diego Chara. Chara, quite a firecracker himself, plays with an intensity and passion that the Timbers really need right now. He brings a certain spunk and character that will be necessary in a match that may see many Timbers players feeling the heat and drooping their heads.
Look for Wilkinson to keep the five midfielder formation that he has instilled in the past few games as he looks to play for the counter rather than the true attack. While this has been criticized in the past few games, stopping the attack of Ferreira will be much more important than trying to manufacture goals on the road for this game.
For the first time in four games, I believe the Timbers will be able to produce a win on the road despite the struggles they have had as of recent.
Though it will not be easy, the Timbers should be able to give Wilkinson his first win as interim head coach and restore at least some confidence back into a team that so desperately needs it.