Friday, June 16, 2017

Week 16 Prediction Thread - Timbers v. Rapids Round 1

The MLS scheduling gods aren't doing the Portland Timbers any favors to end the month of June. But with planned gaps in the schedule and a desire to play nearly 2 months of playoff soccer later in the year, this ends up compressing fixtures for nearly every team at some point. Add in the fun of the U.S. Open Cup to the turmoil and you can safely see why Timbers Coach Caleb Porter took the full rotational approach to the midweek USOC opener against Floundering Fish FC. With playing Colorado on June 17 followed up by dates in Minnesota on June 21, hosting Seattle on June 25, traveling to Sporting KC for a July 1 match to then host Chicago on July 5, that is a ton of travel especially with an international window of matches falling just before that. The majority of players used in the USOC match were from Timbers 2 except for Ben Zemanski, and while they did reasonably well for long stretches, they ultimately couldn't overcome a second half penalty and lost 2 to 1 to be eliminated from the tournament.

Do I wish the Timbers could have fielded a stronger team? Absolutely because I love the concept of winning the Open Cup to be crowned the best professional or high amateur side in US soccer for that calendar year. It's a prestigious honor, but it gets wedged among the other dates and so teams have to manage their rosters accordingly. As much as the playoffs are exciting, I'd rather see MLS eliminate the postseason completely and re-distribute the dates to allow free weekends for USOC matches to give the tournament the attention it deserves. But I'm not the commissioner and the league loves playoff drama, so we are stuck with this reality for now. So the Timbers now turn their attention to league play to battle the Colorado Rapids, one of the more curious teams in MLS for 2017. After being near the top of the table in 2016 due to an impressive defense and opportunistic offense, the Rapids have sunk to the bottom of the Western Conference with 13 points in 13 matches played. While their home record is respectable at 4 wins, 1 draw and 2 losses, they haven't secured a point in 6 road matches.

Scoring 12 goals in 13 matches isn't helping things either as Dominique Badji and Kevin Doyle have 3 goals each in 2017. While their goals conceded mark of 18 isn't bad either in comparison to other marks, it's not good if your team isn't scoring enough to overcome that. The players are there, as the Rapids boast Sam Cronin and Dillon Powers, two of the better central midfielders out there, while Marlon Hairston and Mohammed Saeid are solid wingers. Their defense in front of keepers Tim Howard and Zac MacMath has been good, too, but there has been some bad luck and inept offense abound for this group. Rapids Coach Pablo Mastroeni might refer to the struggles as showing great heart and desire, but the Rapids have simply been too inconsistent to be a threat so far this year. However, they do possess an advantage in their home pitch being at altitude, and the Timbers have just 1 win and 2 draws in 9 matches at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City, Colorado. While Darlington Nagbe will be back for the Timbers, David Guzman isn't available due to suspension for accumulation, and the status of center backs Roy Miller and Liam Ridgewell is uncertain after both left the 2 to 0 win over FC Dallas for injury. Miller was in midweek training, but his status is likely a game time decision, so Porter may have to employ Lawrence Olum and Amobi Okugo as his two center backs.

We've had a new addition to the crew this week as our cat Lucy has decided she wants to participate in the fun, while the rest of the predictions crew is again back for another go. What do they think about this weekend's match? Let's find out, shall we?

Rick's animal collective

Rick - Timbers 1, Rapids 1

All 13 of Colorado's points this season's have come from home games. The Timbers haven't tended to fare very well at altitude with a W1 D2 L 5 F6 A17 record in Commerce City. Injuries continue to dog the Timbers and David Guzman's suspension for yellow card accumulation won't help matters. I'll go with Adi continuing his scoring streak. 



Mark - Timbers 2, Rapids 2

Happy Timbers people, but this picture lacks cats.

Last summer my wife and I traveled to Colorado and watched a less than scintillating 0-0 draw. One thing I can say about Dick’s Sporting Goods Park is they have ample free parking and Dip-N-Dots. The odds for this game break out like this. Rapids 42% chance of a win, PTFC 30% Draw 28% . The people at 538 assume there is rhyme or reason in the MLS. Rapids are coming off consecutive wins at home and the Timbers did likewise. Of course this game is going to be played at 5280 feet of elevation. Advantage to the Rapids. The Rapids are also tough at home. It must be the altitude as their fans kind of hang out and take in the game.  I do not see the Mighty Mighty Timbers walking away with three points here. Despite Timbers depleted back line I do not see this a high scoring game. Still I will ignore my gut instincts and go with the draw. I think Adi holds up well and he scores and assists on a goal. Blanco will be the recipient of the assist. I have no idea who scores, however I think Alan Gordon will be in the mix. I feel the Timbers, arguably are the better side, however this has the look and feel of an odd game. So expect a thunderstorm, plenty of yellow cards and a controversial penalty kick that will give the faithful something to argue about for the next week.

Lucy - Timbers 2, Rapids 1

I finally get to participate in this. Do I get extra kibble now?

The newest member of the cat collective to provide her thoughts started out as a very shy cat, but suffice to say, she's come out of her shell quite a bit. The interview was very enthusiastic as she was excited to be included, especially since she spent most of the FC Dallas match lying on the couch and watching to see what all the fuss is about. She emphatically indicated a Timbers win, but admitted that both sides will get to score goals on this night.

GB - Timbers 2, Rapids 0

Soccer isn't boring. It's a great sleep aid for me!

The gray boy had spent most of the morning sleeping and snoring in the background of various conference calls while Kip was working from home. It's actually a very wonderful noise, but honestly, it indicates that the pollen and allergens in the air suck so far this year. When he woke up, he indicated 2 head butts for Portland and went back to sleep when asked about Colorado. Considering their boring offense, maybe he is onto something here?

Spot - Timbers 2, Rapids 0

I'm in charge around here in case anybody asked.

The scoreless draw queen made it two weeks in a row for her to provide a score, and she did it in her same Spot-like style. One of her most endearing or gross habits is to rub her nose on an arm or hand, and since it's covered in drool or snot, it's terribly gross. When asked about the match, Spot rubbed 2 times for Portland and turned her head when asked about Colorado. Kip is now busy trying to find the hand sanitizer gel after this interview.

Tortie - Timbers 6, Rapids 4

Goals are good, but food is better.

The tortoise shelled one has been rather conservative in her thoughts over the past few weeks, but Team Tortie has returned to her track meet predictions for this week. Whether this is due to the altitude or the current winning streak isn't completely clear, but Tortie eeped more times for the guys in green than for the Rapids - and both sides got eeeps, so she is thinking there will be goals a plenty.

Kip - Timbers 1, Rapids 0

I could deal with some sun around here for a while.

I have to admit, I'm rather conflicted by this match up. Both teams come into this on 2 match winning streaks as the defenses have been very good, but Portland's defense has several injuries right now. As offensively challenged as the Rapids are, they are still a good home team and you can't look past this bunch in their home park. For me, I'm calling for Diego Valeri to break the tie between 8 goal scorers of himself and Fanendo Adi, and that's enough for the Timbers to add to their winning streak. I'm also expecting Caleb to play a very conservative approach, especially with 2 matches in the upcoming week - a match with an improved Minnesota side on June 21 and the ever flopping ones at Providence Park on June 25.

As far as Jennifer's prediction for the week, she has spent the past few days in the throws of Severe Allergy Land. She might have passed onto the other universal plane in an attempt to get away from all the allergens for all we know. Due to the compressed schedule, predictions will return for the Cascadia Cup match next Sunday against the unmentionables.

1 comment:

  1. So Lucy gets the score right, but nobody picked the end result of a Rapids win. Interesting - the Editors.