Game #7 Preview: Philadelphia at Portland

Posted on 05 May 2011 by Breton Bonnette

The Union head to Portland charged with the opportunity to do what Salt Lake, Chicago, and FC Dallas could not do at JELD-WEN Field. Win. It’s Major League Soccer’s best defense against a team that somewhat resembles that  ‘strong home, struggle away’ expansion Union squad we remember from a little over a year ago. Who will come out on top?

Courtesy of OregonLive.com

Portland Timbers (3-3-1) vs. Philadelphia Union (4-1-1)
Friday, May 4, 2011
JELD-WEN Field, Portland, OR, 10:30PM

Portland Timbers Projected Starting XI

——————————–Perkins—————————-

Hall—————Brunner———-Danso————Wallace

Nagbe————-Jewsbury———Chara———-Alhassan

———————Cooper———-Perlaza———————

OUT: FW Bright Dike (R Achilles rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (R Achilles tendinitis); FW Brian Umony (R knee MCL sprain); PROBABLE: GK Adin Brown (hamstring strain); DF David Horst (R ankle sprain); GK Jake Gleeson (L elbow sprain); MF Peter Lowry (R knee MCL strain)

Philadelphia Union Projected Starting XI

——————-—————––Mondragon——————–————-

Williams————–Califf——————–Valdes-———-M.Farfan

——-————–—-Carroll——————Okugo————————-

Le Toux–————————————–—————————-Daniel

————————–Mwanga—-————-–Ruiz—————————

OUT: GK Thorne Holder (concussion); PROBABLE: MF Gabriel Farfan (R toe dislocation); MF Stefani Miglioranzi (R groin strain); DF Danny Califf (illness); MF Keon Daniel (R foot contusion)

Game Notes:

The Union will look to be the first team to beat Portland at JELD-WEN Field in regular season play this Friday. The Timbers most recent was an impressive 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, a team struggling with the disappointment of losing in the CONCACAF Champions League final. The Timbers did, however, drop a recent decision to San Jose in an Open Cup qualifier. Ike Opara scored an extratime gamewinner that ended the Timbers participation in the tournament but head coach John Spencer made it clear at the outset of the game that USOC play was not a priority to him, the match-up with Philadelphia was. He fielded a team of reserves in the 1-0 loss.

In two out of the three Portland wins, the Timbers defense surrendered late goals that made things relatively interesting (3-2, 4-2 respectively). Ruiz, Le Toux, and Mwanga building upon previous performances will be key. Hopefully, Le Toux getting that first goal of the year will open the floodgates for him. In Portland’s 1-0 win over Real Salt Lake, the away team created opportunities but in many cases, they failed to follow through with them.

Timbers striker Jorge Perlaza was at one time a Union target during the offseason. Since joining Portland, however, he has started down the road of fan favorite – scoring the first goal in JELD-WEN Field history and linking well with Kenny Cooper up top. Head coach John Spencer also has an impressive amount of speed on the wings, something that could potentially cause the Union backline a little trouble. Darlington Nagbe – #2 draft pick – and Kalif Alhassan (four assists so far) were problems for Real Salt Lake this past weekend.

The Union could be without Danny Califf in central defense due to sickness. If that’s the case, it will most likely be Juan Diego Gonzalez in replacement of Califf and Michael Farfan, fresh off his professional debut, at left back for Harvey.

The Union neutralized Steven Lenhart for the most part against San Jose but Kenny Cooper is a different story. He’s a technical target man, one that can actually beat you on the dribble if given the chance. If an undersized back like Gonzalez is forced to take Cooper for the whole 90 minutes with Perlaza looming, it could make for an unsettling 90 minutes.

The Colombian connection isn’t only prevalent with the Union. The Timbers have two Colombians in their probable starting lineup – a newly signed Diego Chara and Jorge Perlaza. Both have known each other since the age of 12. Chara should provide a calming influence in the center of the pitch while Perlaza has already shown what he can do, bagging a brace in the first game at JELD-WEN Field.

If the Union can strike first at JELD-WEN, there’s no telling how the Timbers will react along with the crowd. They are 0-3-1 when conceding first but the majority of those contests were on the road. To silence the crowd early and force them to start from behind should be a main Union concentration.

The announcement of the Broad Street Run/Union photo contest winners will be this SUNDAY night!

Predictions for the scoreline this weekend? Worried – especially since Portland are 3-0-0 at home – or are you excited to see how the Union’s defense withstands the pressure?

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