Portland Timbers

Timbers travel to cold Colorado – Saturday, 3 PM PT on ROOT TV

As a Timbers supporter you probably already have a favorite place picked out to watch the first away match this year in cold Colorado. Game time temperatures are expected to be chilly (very chilly) with a wee bit of snow.

Not the most ideal conditions to play in but as Chris Metz, Public Affairs with the Timbers noted – it’s been colder and the most memorable cold game was against Toronto in the first year of MLS for Portland – I think he mentioned 20 degrees as being the high temperature that day.

All that said – it’ll be cold for both teams so the game state conditions don’t favor anybody and I pity the player who takes an ankle knock on a cold day – geez those are painful in the cold…

As to who we might see starting Saturday???

Big secret apparently and with Caleb not being available for a press conference today there wasn’t even a chance to ask him.

I did try, in an off-hand kind of way, to get some sort of info from Pa Madou Kah but he deftly sidestepped my inference in how the Center-backs might approach the game with Paparatto being sidelined.

He really wasn’t having any of it and quickly turned his answer towards indicating however the team lined up the objective was 3 points. It is likely he didn’t appreciate my detailed question.

My expectation is that Urruti most likely gets the head nod given his more defensive nature as a center forward (away game and all).  His high energy level and ability to apply high pressure helps in creating turnovers but with a strength in one area it also creates a perceived weakness in another area.  

With Zakuani on the left he creates attacking pressure out wide but the close down factor drops a wee bit when Gaston rotates up top…

As for the back-four…

Well Paparatto, in pre-trainng warm-ups wasn’t working with the larger group of players – he was off on the sidelines working with Kalif, Rodney and Steve Evans… perhaps he filtered over to the first team; perhaps not – couldn’t tell.

Even if Papa doesn’t start with Pa – Futty Danso has been reliant and resilient as a reserve Center-back who knows his role… I’d expect to see Futty.

Jewsbury and Harrington should obviously man the fullback slots… (at least for starters).

For the midfield…

I wouldn’t expect any changes tomorrow with respect to Chara, Johnson, Nagbe, Valeri or Fernandez but if things don’t shake out in the next couple of games we could see a change there even outside the general belief that most have in seeing Zakuani garner a starting role sooner rather than later.

I have heard Caleb Porter ran a single pivot at Akron – – Chara and Johnson now operate in what most would consider is a double pivot but I’d liken things (at this point) to a rotating pivot depending upon game conditions and game state.

In the early stages of both games, and even a wee bit later, on occasion, Diego Chara has popped up in the penalty box with some space and time only to see it melt away as a chance gone lost.

In addition, in game 1, we saw Steve Zakuani come on for Jack Jewsbury, late in the game, that also signaled another tactical change of substance in moving from 4 traditional defensive players to three.

If the game state warrants this, and even perhaps not, it is possible to consider that Porter might mix things up a bit anyway – he did, as a reminder, indicate during pre-season this year that he’s been able to work on some additional tactical options given less turmoil and turnover in key player personnel.

All said and done the potential for nervous energy impacting the Timbers is less likely to occur in an away game where game conditions could be in the 20’s or 30’s.

It’ll be a hard slog but I’m hopeful the Timbers open up a multiple goal scoring account this year while also offering up a clean sheet in defense.

In closing…

Pareja has moved on and now Mastroeni runs the fold – it’s unlikely that Colorado has diverted away from being a possession based team – with the pitch being hard and the air cold there may be stretches of possession outside the attacking third for both teams where the intent is more to possess the ball than to penetrate the attacking third.

On the other hand the Timbers could very well get stuck in quickly to 1) generate increased blood flow and 2) set the game conditions where Colorado has to chase the game.  I’ts my feeling that the longer this game goes without a goal for Portland the more likely the game ends in a draw or an unfavorable result for the Timbers.

Key statistic so far this year – as noted in my match report from last weekend. The Portland Timbers have had 17 of 36 shots blocked in their first two games while Colorado blocked three of 11 shots taken by New York, allowing 2 shots on goal and one goal scored. If Portland can hit that magic 35-40% shots on goal versus shots taken they should be in for a pretty good day.

In case you missed it I am now offering up my MLS Possession with Purpose analysis on American Soccer Analysis – here’s a link to my Week 1 analysis to include attacking and defending players of the week and here’s a link to my Week 2 analysis offering the same after Week 2.

This will be a regular feature for me to offer up on American Soccer Analysis.

All the best,
Chris

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.