What to Watch For (Timbers vs White Caps) Kick-off Saturday 7:30 PM
Big Cup match for Timbers tomorrow night. Many things to look for and lots of questions I have so let’s get stuck in straightaway.
WTWF #1. We need to see more of Darlington Nagbe tomorrow night and not just him taking on a roll of closing passing lanes in the midfield; he needs to continue to be as aggressive, if not more, than his last two games on the road. He and the other midfielders have been playing some crackin games but we can’t win unless we defend. Not having Diego Chara to rely on all the time will make it that much more important for our midfielders to defend.
WTWF #2. This is really a string of questions I have that I will be looking to get some answers to as the game is played.
Do we rotate back to a 4-3-3 with Richards and Songo’o up top or do we continue with the 4-2-3-1 with Zizzo on the right and Songo’o on the left?
Who slots in to take the place of Diego Chara and how does that impact the attacking half midfield play?
Do we see Kris Boyd return to the lineup – and if so how does he play against Miller and Robson?
If healthy do we see Alhassan come on as a sub around the 75th minute or earlier? And how does he impact the game?
If we play long balls who is our target striker?
WTWF #3. We heard Gavin Wilkinson admit up front for the Red Bulls game that he was going to play long and play long often. Does that continue or do we revert back to try playing more short balls from square one and the back four?
WFWT #4. This one is a bit tricky to say but I’ll do my best. I imagine the first 15/20 minutes will be pretty high energy for both teams. Depending on how that goes we may see Vancouver settle in real deep in a defensive mode to cut down the counterattacking strength of Portland. That might not make sense but sometimes when playing away (like PTFC did against NYRB) there is goodness in long balls to stretch the opponent.
No WTWF on the back-four for tomorrow – it should be really clear that I will always be watching our back-four; how high we play, how tight we man-mark in the 18 yard box, and how flat our line is to minimize through ball breakaways.
If Vancouver settles in and drops back deep I offer this game may come down to set-piece goals for us and counterattacking goals for them. Our fullbacks and wingers will need to be really quick to get behind the ball on counters by Vancouver.