Portland Timbers

Scouting Report – Portland Timbers v Real Salt Lake

The Timbers haven’t entered the ‘must win’ part of the campaign yet but it’s getting pretty close.

So what my we expect from Real Salt Lake this weekend and how might things take shape as the Timbers look to take three points – or at a minimum – one point?

For starters – while RSL has a terrible goal differential {-10} (37 goals conceded and 27 goals scored) that isn’t the case when they play at home.  In Rio Tinto it’s completely different; there they have 17 goals scored and just 11 goals against (+6 goal differential).

Some things to consider:

  • When away from home RSL averages below 50% possession and they tend to play deeper with a little less aggression – at home they average above 50% possession and they tend to play higher with a little more aggression.
  • Teams that have taken points in Rio Tinto usually do so by drawing; on only one occasion have the Lakers lost at home – and in that game Saucedo had a red card in the 70th minute and Vancouver scored about 5 minutes later to win one-nil.  Also, in that game Olave got a red card near stoppage time – so a comeback really wasn’t in the cards.
  • Other than that only two teams (Columbus – as one would expect) and Colorado (the odd one out) have gone into Rio Tinto and won the possession battle while also getting a draw.

What’s the mean for the Timbers?

  • Perhaps a couple of things – first off the Timbers have felt an on-slaught lately in teams playing hyper aggressive in the midfield – will that occur in Rio Tinto?  I’m not inclined to think it will – at least not straight away.
  • The reason comes down to the Lakers playing a grueling game in Kansas City mid-week where all their top players got a start.  If you recall the previous week – RSL traveled to Vancouver and played mostly non-starters to set the conditions for first teamers playing Wednesday evening.  In that away loss to Vancouver they got hammered 4-nil.
  • So given the un-success of the second team in trying to go toe-to-toe with Vancouver I’d imagine a mixed bag of starters and subs to begin the game against Portland.
  • Most likely meaning a tempered approach to try and conserve with the intent to play possession-based ball that eventually wears down the Timbers in high altitude.
  • If that is the case I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Timbers, perhaps in the first 20 minutes or so, come out very-very aggressive and try to catch RSL on their heels.
  • If the Timbers can get that early goal figure they will then rely on a well-versed defensive scheme (two clean sheets in the last two games) as well as a very athletic counter-attacking game to see their way through three points.

So who starts?

  • Hard to say – but maybe not – if things continue as they have the last few games it’ll be Adi with Wallace, Nagbe and Valeri and the usual abdominal six pack of Chara, Johnson, Villafana, Ridgewell, Borchers, and Powerll in front of the Keeper Kwarasey.
  • For what it is worth, sometime, during the game I’d like to see Melano, with Asprilla (on the right), Nagbe (on the left), and Valeri in the middle – and of course the six-pak and Keeper Kwarasey.

If you want some more detail about my thoughts leading into the game make sure you tune into the Rose City Soccer Show.

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.