By Will Conwell
The game starts at 7:30 PM on KPDX. If you do not have cable or want a good Portland establishment to enjoy with friends, we have a couple suggestions from our sponsors.
Watch Timbers Games in Portland:
East Burn (East Burnside & 18th) | (503) 236-2876 | More info: www.theeastburn.com
East Burn will have the game on a large projection screen on their heated patio and also downstairs. Recess discount menu from 3-6PM. They have daily drink specials (pdf of specials here).
Blitz (Ladd, Pearl, Tigard, NW 21) | More info: blitzbarpdx.webs.com
Blitz’s FOUR locations will be happening as always with tons of televisions, drinks specials, and games (ping pong, shuffleboard, buckhunters, horseshoes in Tigard, and more).
Game Preview: Portland Timbers vs San Jose Earthquakes
Game 16: Portland Timbers (4W-7L-4T) vs San Jose Earthquakes (6W-8L-1T)
Tuesday, July 3, 2012 @ 7:30 p.m.
Previous match-up(s): 8/6/11 1-1 Home Tie, 9/21/11 1-1 Away Tie
Listen/Watch: KPDX, 750 AM: THE GAME, PortlandTimbers.com
FREE BUS RIDES TO GAMES: Ride Blitz Bus To Portland Timbers Games | FREE Rides from Blitz Tigard & Ladd to Jeld-Wen Field
Only three days after their demoralizing 3-0 loss to the Colorado rapids, the Portland Timbers return to Jeld-Wen Field to take on the league-leading San Jose Earthquakes today. While the Timbers have always struggled on the road, the severity of their most recent away loss was surprising after a gutsy win over arch-rivals the Seattle Sounders the week before. With only one day of practice between games, the Timbers will need to give an emphatic response to their critics before the season spirals out of control.
Last year, the Timbers were almost able to ride their spectacular home form to a berth in the playoffs, despite playing abysmally on the road. This season, the Timbers have once again looked like two different teams at home and on the road, posting a record of 4-2-2 at home and 0-5-2 on the road so far. If the Timbers are going to have any chance of making the playoffs this year, they need to dig deep and win games like this one against San Jose and continue taking points at home.
San Jose, for their part, won’t make things easy on the Timbers. Since taking over during the reintroduction of San Jose into the league in 2008, the Earthquakes’ head coach Frank Yallop has gradually built a core of hardworking, talented players that are only now realizing their potential. The best example of the type of player that Yallop has brought into the team over the last four years is Chris Wondolowski. A perpetual reserve player with Houston when John Spencer was an assistant coach there, Wondo consistently lead the reserve league in goals. However, despite several stints up front for Houston as a substitute or injury replacement, he never quite caught on. Given another chance at San Jose when traded for in 2009, Wondo has scored 51 goals in 87 appearances for the club, including 14 this year, enough to lead the league by a three goal margin.
Although Wondolowski has been the stand out player for the Earthquakes, his fellow forwards have been a big part of San Jose’s success this season. Stephen Lenhart, a physical player reviled around the league for his antics and hairdo, and Alan Gordan, a journeyman striker and former USL-era Timber, have provided two strong threats to give Wondolowski room to operate and have managed to bang in eleven goals between them.
Opposing the dynamic ‘Quakes attack is a weakened Timbers defense. Still missing Hanyer Mosquera after his ill-advised punch on Jack McBean three games ago and Eric Brunner due to a concussion, the center of the defense will likely be Futty Danso and David Horst; a combination that looked inspired against Seattle, but who showed little to be proud of in Colorado. However, playing ahead of them in the defensive midfielder role for the first time this year will not be Diego Chara. Chara picked up his fifth yellow card of the season against the Rapids on Saturday and was given a one game suspension. In his place will likely be Lovel Palmer, although Jack Jewsbury is a possibility as well. Neither give the Timbers the defensive bite of Chara, a player who has been the lynchpin of the team so far this year.
On offense, the Timbers need to provide service to their forwards. Both Timbers goals against the Sounders came thanks to some great service to the forwards, not thanks to a deflection or a Darlington Nagbe wondergoal as was the case at the beginning of the season. The Timbers looked like they were starting to get their defensive woes sorted out, only to regress badly in Colorado with the rest of the team unable to find the strikers up top. If the midfield can link up with the forwards then the forwards can score.
On defense, the Timber need to concentrate and make good decisions for the full ninety minutes. The Timbers defense has made silly errors in almost every game and against San Jose they will be punished for that. Wondolowski is a player who thrives on the tiniest amount of space, so it will be up to the Timbers backs to make sure that he is well marked until the final whistle.
TIMBERS LEADING SCORERS
Kris Boyd – 5
Darlington Nagbe – 3
Kalif Alhassan – 1
Andrew Jean-Baptiste – 1
Eric Brunner – 1
David Horst – 1
7/7 @ Real Salt Lake
7/14 vs. Los Angeles Galaxy
7/18 @ Chivas USA
7/21 @ FC Dallas
7/24 vs. Aston Villa (Friendly)
TIMBERS PREDICTED LINE-UP
Jewsbury (RB), Horst (CB), Futty (CB), Smith (LB)
Songo’o (RM), Nagbe (CM), Palmer (CM), Zizzo (LM)
Boyd (F), Fucito (F)
The Timbers looked awful on Saturday, only to turn around and face the hottest team in the league. The Earthquakes have won six of their nine road games this season and will be looking forward to taking on a Timbers team that looks like it is in disarray. Three points look unlikely in this game, but the Timbers need to win at home to gain back the goodwill of their fans and to have any chance of making the playoffs. The absolute minimum for the Timbers is to give everything they have got.
Pipeline’s Portland Timbers coverage by:
Will Conwell is an aspiring novelist who spends his free time unloading trucks in warehouses. His passions in life are soccer, beer, and writing, which he has found are best enjoyed in concert. Will can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter at TimbersPipeline.