Some quick thoughts on today’s match:
* Is today the day for the Timbers?
On Wednesday night, the Timbers put in one of their best road performances in their brief MLS history against the San Jose Earthquakes. While it was disappointing to come away with only 1 point after having a 2-0 lead, it was still a strong effort against one of the hottest teams in MLS. Still, the Timbers road record stands at an abysmal 0-10-4 with only 8 goals scored in those matches.
Real Salt Lake, on the other hand, is struggling. Just 1-4-1 in their last 6 MLS matches, injuries to Jamison Olave, Chris Schuler and now Alvaro Saborio (a game-time decision due to a sprained shoulder) have contributed greatly to Real Salt Lakes’ struggles the past few months.
* Which team will be impacted more by their missing injured players?
The Timbers have several key players out with injuries: Donovan Ricketts, Diego Chara and now Kris Boyd, who is likely to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury. Timbers interim coach Gavin Wilkinson changed Wednesday’s lineup and formation as a result and will likely keep the same for Real Salt Lake match.
For Real Salt Lake, their struggles truly began when Jamison Olave was forced to miss action due to hamstring and other injuries. With Olave out, Real Salt Lake is simply not the same team, registering a 2-6-3 record. With the possibility that leading scorer, Alvaro Saborio (his 14 goals is second only to Chris Wondolowski in MLS), will likely have to sit due to pain from his shoulder strain injury, goals could be hard to come by. The Timbers will breathe a sigh of relief if Saborio sits out. Saborio scored a hat trick in his last match against Portland, which incidentally was John Spencer’s last match as Timbers manager.
* Probable Timbers lineup:
GK: Joe Bendik
DEF: Steven Smith, David Horst, Hanyer Mosquera, Lovel Palmer
MF: Franck Songo’o, Rodney Wallace, Jack Jewsbury, Darlington Nagbe
FW: Bright Dike, Danny Mwanga
Rio Tinto Stadium, while not the usual stronghold it has been in past seasons, is still a difficult place to play and RSL is 10-4-1 on the season. RSL’s playoff chances are pretty secure regardless of the result today. With no chance for the playoffs, many of the Timbers players are definitely playing for their jobs and a place in next year’s squad under new coach Caleb Porter. I don’t see the Timbers getting three points today, but I am hoping that some Timbers desperation combined with RSL’s injury woes help the Timbers overachieve for a draw.
REFEREE: Kevin Stott. AR1 (bench): Corey Parker; AR2 (opposite): Jason Cullum; 4th: Allen Chapman
MLS Career: 229 games; FC/gm: 25.6; Y/gm: 3.3; R: 59; pens: 48
REAL SALT LAKE – OUT: GK Lalo Fernandez (R wrist fracture); DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe (R adductor strain); PROBABLE: DF Jamison Olave (L hamstring strain); DF Chris Schuler (L foot bone bruise); DF Kenny Mansally (L knee MCL sprain) … PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: MF Diego Chara (L adductor strain); GK Donovan Ricketts (L shoulder separation); DF Chris Taylor (R hip surgery); QUESTIONABLE: GK Jake Gleeson (R hand contusion); PROBABLE: MF Freddie Braun (abdominal strain); DF Andrew Jean-Baptiste (L hamstring strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: RSL: Fabian Espindola, Javier Morales, Jamison Olave, Alvaro Saborio … POR: Jack Jewsbury
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: RSL: Will Johnson, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Jonny Steele … POR: Kris Boyd, Hanyer Mosquera, Lovel Palmer, Kosuke Kimura, Diego Chara, Steven Smith, Franck Songo’o