Pre-season Portland vs Houston
The Portland Timbers take on Owen Coyle and the Houston Dynamo this Saturday at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson Arizona. I hear it will be streamed but not sure of the details, if Paulson works his magic like he did last time you’ll be able to watch the match on the Portland Timbers team website.
Now for the game and what to expect…
Since Houston is new to the Western Conference (again) here’s some superb insight on what to expect from Houston by a colleague of mine (@SeanRingrose) who covers the Houston Dynamo here.
Starting Lineup: Beasley – Taylor – Rodriguez – Sarkodie (4) Clark – Garrido (2) Davis – Barnes – Boniek (3) Bruin (1)
Expectations: Coyle intends to roll out a 4-2-3-1 and this is when we
will begin seeing the rotations take shape. Unlike his predecessor, he
also intends to play everyone more frequently, utilizing the depth of
the team to provide rest for every player throughout the season.
This simply means we will see much more of the depth players, even
beyond just substitutions at the 75th minute of matches. We’ll see
halftime subs, 50th minute subs, 60th minute subs. We’re going to see
much more of the young guys, and this is exciting for Dynamo fans.
Thoughts: Both Portland and Houston have undergone a slew of changes
all over the pitch, but primarily at depth. Improvements in multiple
areas, but with both teams’ core of players remaining in tact. There
will be time needed to mesh and gel, so we’re primed to see some
choppy, unsynchronized play as players try to get comfortable with one
Owen Coyle should probably tinker and toy with positions and players,
and there is a possibility we could see him test out multiple
formations during the match. It is hard to say, but it will be a fun
match to see things begin to take shape.
By the way – if you’d like to hear thoughts from Chris Canetti about the Houston Dynamo, prior to his season (speaking to Owen Coyle joining the fold) listen in here to my podcast with Chris about a month ago…
In considering what Portland might offer – For what it is worth Porter will most likely roll-out the team in a bog-standard (bucket 4-4-2) meaning two forwards – two central midfielders and two wingers… in considering the flexibility that Caleb has it reminds me of the inflexibility the Timbers had under Spencer.
If there was ever one big difference between the Timbers under Spencer and the Timbers under Porter it’s this – the Timbers, with Porter, have a bevy of very good players who can play multiple roles in a multitude of ways – with Spencer the overwhelming majority of players could only play one role (sometimes not even defined) one way… what a difference diversity makes in how a team can perform.
If anyone has benefitted from the hiring of Porter I’d say it’s Wilkinson!
As for the inner workings within the game I’d expect Adi pairing up top with Gaston (in a quasi false 10 role) while Nagbe and Wallace work the wings (knowing that Nagbe will float a bit more than Rodney) as Chara and Zemanski work the middle. The back four should remain unchanged with Villafana and Powell wide in support of Paparatto and Borchers.
As for penetration down the wings – watching Powell and Villafana early on may help give a sense on how much Porter is willing to see Portland commit to the attack. Last week both fullbacks hung back a bit in the first half of the first half… And if Portland can get a goal with only committing four-five players in attack all the better.
In closing – Owen Coyle was a crafty bugger in the Championship League (English League Division 1) and he lead a couple of teams in getting promoted to the English Premier League – we might not see some crafty tactical nous in pre-season but you can bet the Timbers will in the Regular season…
There’s nothing to play for here but getting in shape and practicing what the gaffer preaches – if there aren’t wholesale subs at the 45 or 60 minute mark then it is likely the players coming on as subs first are those that are showing the best in training…