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Match Preview – Portland Timbers vs Wilmington Hammerheads

Portland Timbers return home to a jazzed JELD-WEN in search of their first Cup win under the helm of Caleb Porter – in the words of Caleb earlier today ‘we are in it to win it’…

That’s a great concept and the balance of playing top-flight players in the first round for MLS teams is always a challenge given the grueling summer that is fast approaching.  In all there are four games to be played if great form and goal scoring follow the Timbers throughout this competition.

It’s no easy matter and everyone no doubt remembers the bloody mess from last year and the humiliating defeat against a part-time team.

So here’s a quick rundown on my usual offerings prior to a match recognizing that the historical data for Wilmington just isn’t there to review.

JELD-WEN – Home and hopefully the atmosphere will put Wilmington on their back foot straightaway; to be fair the longer this game goes nil-nil the more confidence and extra energy that team will get and for a bit of spice in this one Daniel Steres (Defender) makes a (return?) to JELD-WEN given his history with the Flounders – erh… I mean Sounders…

Weather – Rain, rain and probably more rain – the pitch should be quite fast and that should work to the advantage of Portland – good footy weather with probably a wee bit of a nip in the air…

Standings – All square in this one – you win you’re in – you lose you’re out.  It’s one game and anyone can win given the extra adrenaline that rises to the top in games like these.  It’s quite possible some of the lads playing Wednesday night might have a wee bit of a chip on their shoulder after that embarrassing loss last year…

Formation – My guess and probably the Capt. Obvious here is Caleb opens his team up in a 4-3-3 and presses from minute one.  If Wilmington have done any homework on this game I would expect them to run a 4-5-1 turtle shell…

Goals Scored – For 2013 Paul Nicholson (Midfield) leads the team with 3 goals while Jamal Wallace (Defender) follows close behind on two goals.  Three other players have tallied one apiece (two of them defenders).  Tom Parrat (Defender) leads the team in assists with 2.

To date Kyle Greig leads the team in shots (13) while Steres (Defender and ex Sounder) is second with 12…

While not really rocket science here it’s a good bet this team will look to play for set pieces or score goals from outside the 18 yard box… either Kocic or Gleeson will have to be locked in while the bucket midfielders will need to pay close attention to the top of the 18 yard box…

As for Portland – Not sure exactly who will be starting up top but it’s a good bet we will probably see Valencia as well as Piq – a good opportunity for Piq to open his goal account for Portland…

Curved Air – If Wilmington open up in a turtle shell I would expect direct play (long balls from square 1 on their side of the pitch) and short balls with good possession with purpose by Portland…

Possession – As noted the possession battle should be clean here – I highly doubt Wilmington will want to come in and go toe-to-toe with Portland – the counterattack by Portland is quick and while the Hammerheads are professional players it’s reasonable to expect that some are perhaps a step slower than the average MLS Player…

As for the style of penetration and creation of goal scoring opportunities that should vary as well – poking and prodding the Wilmington back four early to test their positional rotation may be one of the first things we see but Porter is a shrewd guy and his attacking style might vary in waves like it did against DC United.

Defense  – Given that Portland have shown no trends or tendencies in penetrations or where they create goal scoring opportunities this year the Hammerheads pretty much need to be prepared for an assault down their left, middle or right… the beauty of variation…

I would offer that we see Rauwshan McKenzie partner Baptiste on Wednesday night and a good chance we see Ryan Miller out right with Harrington at left back.  I’m not sure whether we see Chara and Johnson pair up in the middle or perhaps we see Zemanski take on one of those bucket midfielder roles.

Wild Things – Fouls in the defending third will need to be at a low – giving up set-pieces to a team where three defenders are on the books for goals scored is probably not a good thing…  As for Wilmington, it appears Parrat, their assist leader, also leads the team in fouls with 8.  The number two goal scorer, Jamal Wallace is close behind with 6 as is Bentick (another defender)…

Substitutes – Hard to say… giving the scoreline the range of substitutes could vary considerably…  my guess is Nanchoff and Gangnes are both dressing for the game but much of that decision might have to do with how match-fit Valeri and Kah are…

In closing — Looking forward to a great game with lots of action…

By the way – in that Seattle Sounders game against LA Galaxy last night Seattle only penetrated the Galaxy defending third 16 times the entire game and in the first half they only created one goal scoring opportunity…  so with the scoreline reading 4-nil the team performance behind that scoreline was even worse…  in other words LA were superb on both sides of the ball…

You can follow me on twitter at @chrisgluckptfc

Next up Match Analysis Portland Timbers vs Wilmington Hammerheads…

 

 

Chris Gluck

Chris Gluck

I have been covering the Portland Timbers and Major League Soccer, as a community blogger/analyst for the Columbian Newspaper, since June, 2012. Since then my involvement in soccer analysis has expanded to include participating in the Regional Emmy Award Winning Soccer City PDX TV Show (Comcast Sports Northwest). My unique analytical approach has been published in Europe and presented at the World Conference on Science and Soccer 2014. I also appear regularly as a co-host on Rose City Soccer Show and the Yellowcarded Podcast. You can find my work on PossessionwithPurpose.com, PTFC Collective and Prost Amerika.