After the high of beating longtime northwest foe Seattle, the Portland Timbers surrendered what may have been one of their worst losses of the season in a 3-0 defeat against the mediocre Colorado Rapids, losing any momentum they had collected.
But so goes the season the Portland Timbers have been embarking upon.
What has been a roller coaster ride of a season, the Timbers once again find themselves in the dumps heading into yet another tough test as they face the Western conference leading San Jose Earthquakes. The Earthquakes will be bringing their MLS best record into hostile Jeld-Wen field for what is yet another crucial match in determining how Portland’s season will shake up.
A loss sends them once again into a depressive state, wondering what could have been. A tie makes them feel okay at best. A win would likely give Portland that momentum to once again make a run in the MLS Western Conference as the playoff picture becomes clearer and clearer with each MLS match that is determined.
A huge game for the Timbers with implications that will resonate throughout the rest of the season, here is what to expect from tonight’s matchup between the Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes.
Defensive Mentality in the First Half
After surrendering three goals to the Rapids in their last match, including two in the first half, expect the Timbers to come out of the Jeld-Wen locker room sporting a defensive attitude.
The Earthquakes come into this game having scored the most goals in the MLS at thirty-five, while the Timbers have only managed fourteen.
If the Timbers want to have any shot at winning this game, they will have to play with a defensive mentality from the start, limiting the opportunities that the talented Earthquakes have to put shots on goal.
Offensive opportunities will come from breakaways
Going along with the defensive mentality that the Timers should come out with will be the idea that their best opportunities will come on breakaways.
As we can expect the Earthquakes to do anything they can to quiet down Jeld-Wen field at the beginning of the game, we will likely see a large offensive press from Portland’s foe in order to create more shots on goal. Being such, the Timbers’ best opportunities for their own offensive strikes will come on fast breakaways when they are able to get the ball out of their half and up to Mike Fucito and Kris Boyd.
Expect the Timbers to play it safe at first as they create their offensive chances from breakaways that start with a solid defensive mindset.
David Horst Tested
Chris Wondolowski has been one of the best players in the MLS this season and has shown a true knack for finding the back of the net. This means that Portland defender David Horst will face his toughest test this season as he tries to limit Wondolowski’s impact on this game.
Already proving himself as a valued back, Horst will show what he is really made of tonight, as he will be the primary stopper in diverting attention away from Wondolowski and the rest of the Earthquake offense.
Look for Horst to be involved early and often throughout the entire match.
Kris Boyd Motivated
Last time Kris Boyd played in Portland, he scored a pivotal goal against Seattle that ultimately was the first spark that willed the Timbers to victory.
Throughout the entire season, Boyd has been one of the best players in the MLS and could very well be the newcomer of the year for the entire league.
Feeding off of JELD-WEN and poised to once again gain momentum in the Western Conference, expect Boyd to play motivated soccer and be very involved in the game from the very start. He should play around the full 90 minutes and give the Timbers that extra spark at home that is needed to make a game like this closer than it ought to be.
Mike Fucito Plays a Critical Role
As the Timbers look to find an offensive unit that gels nicely together, expect Mike Fucito’s role on offense to become more prominent as he will work in tandem with Boyd in order to create the best opportunities for the Timbers on offense.
Already showing flashes of promise against Seattle, Fucito should continue to grasp the Timbers system in this game and develop into a well-rounded player on offense.
Expect to see Fucito play a larger role in conducting and managing a Timbers team that is really looking for a true style of play.