Time draws near… Timbers take on Rapids on National TV
If you want to know what a playoff game situation will be like in Portland after about 2 years of fluff and stuff tonight should be the night.
No room for the tip-toe through the tulips (thanks for that Tiny Tim) bollocks and sound-bites from others tonight – it is what it is – the first of four grueling home matches on the six game trail to the Timbers Team looking to repay (in play) what Merritt Paulson offered up about a month later from now, this time last year.
Unlike the early and mid-year games, these final games really don’t have much to do with general statistics – yea there are patterns from the past that one can draw on; what teams like, what areas they prefer, and all, that but tonight is simply stated an 11 v 11.
That’s not to say there won’t be tactical changes; there will be and both coaches have tough challenges in building their starting 11.
Here’s some of my offerings for your consideration going into this game tonight…
- For once Caleb may be spoiled for choices with his strikers – maybe not. Ryan Johnson scores goals at home, seven of them, and the tandem of Wallace and Nagbe alongside Valeri, with Chara and Johnson manning the midfield should be a no-brainer. Go with what got you here.
- Pareja on the other hand has a key player missing (Sturgis) and how he weaves in that replacement will say quite a bit I think. If Powers drops back he’s probably looking defense first – if Powers stays at the top of the middle in his 4-2-(3)-1 then he’s going for goals.
- I’m not real familiar with that team to know who gets called upon but options might include LaBrocca, Mera, O’Neil or someone else. If I were Pareja I would be thinking defense first and leveraging a good passer like LaBrocca if he is available.
- Bottom line here is the two head coaches have had plenty of time, this year, to instill their grist and push for player development – nothing remains – if mental mistakes occur on the pitch it’s no longer down to the coach – that pressure rests solely with the player. Pucker time is here…
- On the defensive end both teams penetrate and both teams pass well – possession is a side issue here (after a goal is scored) – expect both teams to work the air as both win their aerial battles roughly 50% or more of the time.
- As the comfort time settles in Colorado like to press down their right while Portland like to press down their left – a clash of sorts should be expected given that is one side of the pitch being a strong point for both teams.
- For me that speaks to how well Portland can penetrate down their right and leverage Nagbe and whoever plays fullback; if Powell is healthy I submit Porter goes with him and we see a bit more action on that side while Wallace and Harrington ‘create noise’ and make sure they minimize the primary route for Colorado.
- If Porter is thinking of more control and less fast pace he probably goes with Jewsbury at right back if he is healthy and leaves Powell as someone to leverage, like Valencia, Zemanski, and Urutti for the later stages of the game. With Zemanski more likely a defensive substitution and Urutti or Valencia to come on based upon quickening the pace, along with Powell.
Should be a great game…
Next up match analysis…