10things_POR

10 things on Portland Timbers

The Montreal Impact will look to return to winning ways, this Saturday at 3pm EDT, against Portland Timbers (TICKETS - TVA Sports, 98,5fm, TSN Radio 690). This game will also be the first of three in a row against teams from the Cascadia region – the Bleu-blanc-noir will have a Canadian Championship semi-final clash with the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, on May 23 and 30. Here are 10 things about the 2015 MLS Cup champions.

Context

Still striving to be the best in the West, the Timbers started the 2017 campaign with a bang, winning four of their first six games. Since then, it’s much less convincing, especially in the past three games: only two points taken out of nine, with three goals scored and six taken. But with Diego Valeri back in the lineup and possibly Darlington Nagbe, still questionable for Saturday, the lumberjacks’ axe should find back its sharpness.

Current form

W-L-W-D-L-D

Head coach

Caleb Porter (58-42-47 all-time as Timbers head coach) started his fifth season at the helm of the Oregon club, having joined in December 2012 after coaching the University of Akron team from 2006 until 2012. A midfielder for Indiana University in the mid-90s, Porter went to the San Jose Clash with the 27th overall pick of the 1998 MLS College Draft. His career with the Clash and, later, with the Tampa Bay Mutiny, came to a premature end in 2000 due to a knee injury. Named assistant coach of his alma mater that same year, he then took over at the University of Akron in 2006. Porter’s possession- and pressing-based game led the team to a 123-18-17 record during his time at there. Together, Akron and Porter won the institution’s first-ever national championship. In his first MLS season, in 2013, Porter picked up the Coach of the Year award. His Timbers missed out on the MLS Cup Playoffs in 2014, however, leading him to a more pragmatic approach. With added flexibility from a strategic standpoint, Porter led the Timbers to the first MLS Cup in club history in 2015, but missed out on the playoffs last season by two points.

Current top scorer

Fanendo Adi (6)

Players to watch

1. Diego Valeri (#8) – The 31-year-old Argentine Designated Player is at the heart of all good things for Portland. Technical, creative, dangerous, he is a tough ask for any defensive unit, but if you stop him, you have a good chance to win.

2. Fanendo Adi (#9) – Standing at 6 feet 4 inches tall, it’s hard to miss Fanendo Adi on the field, and his big frame does not impede his speed. He often drops off to offer a target higher up the field for his teammates, allowing the block to move forward, as well as having this aptitude to find space in the box at the right time to finish actions.

3. Diego Chará (#21) – Despite the accent at the end, he has the same name as the infamous Zdeno. Just because of that, you should keep an eye on him, even though he has some 13 inches less.

Team profile

Here is what Impact Media wrote on July 13, 2016: “Porterball. That term was used over and over during Caleb Porter’s first two MLS seasons. This approach, which was similar to Porter’s system at Akron, has made way for more pragmatism. The Timbers don’t go out of their way to win the possession battle anymore – according to Opta’s data, their percentage has dropped under 50 percent, even at home, and they don’t shy away from using their speed to unbalance their opponents. Technical efficiency remains vital, however, and the Timbers can rely on a solid spine in the attacking phase. Led by Diego Valeri – who has been ruled out for this Wednesday –, the Timbers score a lot of goals in combinations through the middle, and their wingers don’t mind cutting into the penalty area and looking for the goal. Fanendo Adi’s presence creates space for his teammates, and his nine goals are proof of his effectiveness. But the Timbers haven’t quite found their aerial game, and yet they’re still efficient on set plays – although they do concede their fair share of set-piece goals. Portland’s defence struggled early on with Ridgewell injured, but it has kept three clean sheets in the last five games. Screened by the unrelenting Diego Chará – suspended this Wednesday –, this defence relishes duels.”

Shots on target*

Goals scored from inside the box

Goals scored from outside the box

Goals scored on headers

11th (47)

1st (19)

9th (2)           

2nd (5)

Possession (%)

Big chance conversion (%)

Successful passes in attacking third (%)

Duels won (%)

18th (47%)

6th (66,7%)

10th (65,5%)

15th (50,1%)

*Source for all data is Opta.

Tactical formation

4-2-3-1, 4-2-3-1, 4-2-3-1. Porter does not move from his trusted formation, no matter the player profiles available to him. Lineup v Atlanta United FC: Gleeson; Andriuškevičius, Ridgewell, Miller, Powell; Guzmán, Chará; Blanco, Valeri, Asprilla; Adi.

Most recent games against the Impact

Both clubs faced off only once in 2016, and it was on the West coast. Some guy named Jack McInerney opened the score from a corner and Fanendo Adi thought he had doubled the locals’ lead minutes later, but had fouled Wandrille Lefèvre. Then, at the very end of the first half, Nacho Piatti showed all his skill and determination to score a spectacular goal and allow the Bleu-blanc-noir to earn a point on the road.

Injuries, absences and call-ups (as of May 17)

G Jeff Attinella (thigh)
D Gbenga Arokoyo (ankle)
D Chance Myers (thigh)
M Darlington Nagbe (thigh – back in training)

Upcoming games

Seattle Sounders FC v Portland Timbers (MLS, May 27)
Portland Timbers v San Jose Earthquakes (MLS, June 2)
Portland Timbers v FC Dallas (MLS, June 10)

Topics: