Three ways to saw the Timbers’ legs

Portland playing a third game in eight days tonight

The Impact is making a grand return to action, tonight at 7:30pm at Stade Saputo (TICKETS - TVA Sports, 98,5, TSN 690), and it’ll host a difficult opponent: the Portland Timbers have turned things around, winning four of their last five games, most notably crushing the La Galaxy and the Houston Dynamo with back-to-back 4-0 scorelines. The Oregon club have also added Designated Player Brian Fernandez to its ranks, who’s already equalled an MLS record. The Argentine has scored at least a goal in his first four games and is already the Timbers’ leading scorer, tied with Jeremy Ebobisse.

Add to that Designated Player Diego Valeri, already with 10 assists to his name this season, and Sebastian Blanco, who has two goals and six assists this season, and you have a dangerous and confident team in front of you.

It won’t be an easy return for Montreal after the three-week break. There will certainly be a bit of rust to get rid of in the first few minutes, even if players will be fresh and available. Expect an energized performance from Rémi Garde’s men, you should see their physical advantage increase in the second half. Before it gets started, here are the three keys for the Impact in this one.

  1. Quickly find their bearings

The first ten minutes will be crucial for the Impact’s confidence. Getting back into the competitive rhythm after a three-week break will represent a challenge, although it’s mostly mental. Team spirit and solidarity between players, which has been the Impact’s strength this season, should help them get into the game quickly.

  1. Limit counterattacking opportunities

The Timbers have quick and able offensive players. Most recently, when they get a one-goal lead, they create numerous opportunities on the break when they recover the ball. Assist expert Diego Valeri has many options available, with Ebobisse and Fernandez getting into empty spaces. The Impact will need to limit turnovers in dangerous areas, while also keeping a close eye on the Timbers’ offensive weapons, especially when in possession.

  1. Play freely in the final third

One special moment. It can make the difference between a goal and a missed opportunity. The Impact’s offensive players, when they do get opportunities, will need to use their creativity, technique, and quickness to eliminate a player, make an assist, or offer themselves as an option for a teammate. Against a team like the Timbers, decisiveness in front of goal can make a huge difference.