Friday, June 23, 2017

Week 17 Prediction Thread - Another Timbers - Sounders Encounter

I cannot wait to see what tifo appears on Sunday
The last time the Portland Timbers played at Providence Park, happy thoughts filled the air after the club posted one of it's most dramatic victories of the 2017 season over FC Dallas by a 2 to 0 score. The result was fairly impressive considering the opponent - FC Dallas has been one of the better sides in MLS for many seasons - but also due to the Timbers having to empty the bench due to injuries to 2 centerbacks and being without Darlington Nagbe and David Guzman for international duty. Portland then faced one of their more daunting stretches of play following the result: an Open Cup date with the Seattle Sounders in WA on June 13, followed by MLS matches in Colorado on June 17 and Minnesota on June 21. Timbers Coach Caleb Porter faced some difficult decisions in terms of filling his game day roster, so the team made the decision to play mostly T2 players and a few other regulars in the USOC match to allow the first team to be readily available for the Rapids and MNUFC match.

The USOC match certainly didn't turn out like many had hoped as the young Timbers fell behind early, and they eventually succumbed to the craptacular surface, an unfortunate handball in the box and the massive amount of bright green and bule to lose 2 to 1, but there was certainly promise in the performance. With the USOC an afterthought, the Timbers and T2 could return to their regular schedules in an attempt to qualify for their respective postseasons. However, the plan hasn't worked out as expected as the Timbers absorbed losses to 2 of the teams below them in the Western Conference standings, as they lost 2 to 1 to the Rapids and 3 to 2 to MNUFC.

Who starts for Portland in goal?
Portland controlled the tempo early in the match in Colorado as they took the lead with a Sebastian Blanco strike in the 18th minute. They nearly extended the lead when Fanendo Adi had a chip shot in front of goal in the 49th minute that the Timbers striker pushed high. Colorado leveled the score 2 minutes later, and took the 3 points when former USL Timber Alan Gordon put a header past Jake Gleeson for the lead, but it was Gleeson's unfortunate decision to leave his line that contributed to the first goal for the Rapids. Porter changed things up for Minnesota, giving Jeff Attinella the start in goal and rotating in several other players in an attempt to keep folks fresh for the rematch with the Sounders at home on June 25. Things didn't start off well as the Timbers conceded an own goal early, but they were able to draw level when Diego Valeri drew a penalty against MNUFC goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth for contact in the box.

Valeri easily converted and it appeared the Timbers might find their feet, but after the halftime break, they found themselves in a deficit when Christian Ramirez got free and put the home side up. Minnesota aided the Timbers by conceding an own goal for the visitors, but the home team took the lead when Attinella left his line to punch away a ball and it didn't fall nearly far enough away for MNUFC Abu Danladi to slot it into an open goal for a 3 to 2 lead. Danladi didn't last much longer in the match, as he and Blanco collided at midpitch and both were ejected for violent conduct relating to unsportsmanlike kicks. With Roy Miller earning a soft caution late in the MNUFC match, Porter would now have to account for a different lineup versus the Sounders with no Blanco or Miller available.

The circumstances have been frustrating, especially since for as good as the Timbers were at home versus San Jose and FC Dallas, they slept walked through major portions of the matches with Colorado and Minnesota. Porter called out the team's effort after the Rapids loss, saying he needed players that could finish results, but the effort against Minnesota was uneven at best as the Timbers' offense never seemed to find any rhythm for most of the match. The defense spent most of the night on the back heels, especially with Porter giving Alvas Powell and Marco Farfan starts to give Vytas and Zarek Valentin a break. Portland now faces a key home match with Liam Ridgewell still injured, Miller unavailable due to an accumulation suspension, and newly signed Larrys Mabiala not eligible to play until the summer transfer window opens on July 10. Blanco has been much improved lately, but now the Timbers have to bring out Dairon Asprilla or Darren Mattocks to replace him alongside Adi, Valeri and Nagbe. For as good as this team can be at times, they've been frustratingly awful on many other occasions.

How does our crack crew of prognosticators feel about this weekend's tussle that had to be delayed from the original kickoff time due to extreme heat in the Portland area? Well, let's find out, shall we?


Jennifer - Timbers 2, Sounders 10

It will be so hot, I'm going to be face down in the South Deck by the end of the first half. Unfortunately, I then won't be able to witness the absolute slaughter the Timbers will barely survive. I should be able to still overhear the cacophony of cries and boos from the crowd, though. The bad streak is only going to get, well, badder.

There is no doubt which city GB suppors.

GB - Timbers 1, Sounders 0

The gray boy was sitting in Kip's lap during the interview and he grabbed onto his arm very tightly when he was asked whether the Timbers would win. When asked about the Sounders, he ducked his head away. He followed a similar pattern with the number of goals, grabbing tightly about 1 goal but looking away when asked about any more. While he's predicting a nail biting affair, he is siding with the home side for this week.

Rick - Timbers 2, Sounders 2

Who you looking at?
The only positive I can take from the three games since our comprehensive home victory over FC Dallas is that the Timbers will have an 2 1/2 more hours recovery than the Sounders.That said, the time was more than cancelled out by the flight back from Minneapolis. Hopefully it will balanced out by the Sounders getting stuck in traffic as they head down I5 on Sunday.
The unnecessary losses, for disciplinary reasons, of Sebastiàn Blanco, just as he seemed to have hit a good run of form, and of Roy Miller, who had stood out a solid performer in a misfiring defense, could not have come at a worse time. In spite of all their absences through injury and suspension, the Timbers still have game changers in Chara, Guzman, Nagbe, Valeri, and Adi who could put this sorry fortnight behind us.

Spot - Timbers 2, Sounders 2

This bag is mine! Just like that other bag!

Spot followed her same tactic as last time by rubbing her head and drool on Kip to make her predictions for the match. She didn't make any move to pick a winner when asked about the two teams, but did share her thoughts when asked about a draw. Unlike previous weeks, she did react and put two more drool rubs on Kip's hand when asked about goals. With several weeks left in the season, the editors will need to invest heavily in hand sanitizer at this rate.

Kip - Timbers 2, Sounders 1

This won't be needed for Sunday for sure.

I wished that I felt better about the Timbers going into this match, but I just can't. While Colorado and Minnesota are good teams at home, Portland showed some big problems in both matches that they couldn't overcome - a lack of killer instinct in game 1, and total disorganization in game 2.

The last time the Timbers met the Sounders (I can't count the USOC match since it was really T2 v S2), Portland played well but conceded an early goal and never recovered. With better efforts at home and some frustration brewing, I'm expecting the Timbers to gut out the win behind goals from Nagbe & Adi.

Lucy - Timbers 3, Sounders 3

I'll get a better picture for next time, right?

Our newest member to the cat collective was really excited about being asked to be included for another week, and the exclamations were very over the top. She excited meowed 3 times for the Timbers in terms of goals, which was a very good sign, but the good vibes took a big turn when the number of meows for the visitors matched the same total. Well, at least she predicted that we will see goals for this week.

Tortie - Timbers 15, Sounders 9

It's like a video game, right?

Maybe it was too close to feeding time, maybe it was the fact she got brushed before our talk, or maybe it was the fact that Canadian Football League action was on television for her interview, but the chatty ninja cat kept making all sorts of noises for goals. We think we got all of the eeps for the scores, but Tortie just kept getting chattier and chattier about goals, so that's where the numbers came from. We fear she might be turning into a sports cat at this rate.

Other predictors are on assignment, so this is all we have for this week. In a note from the editors, the predictions will be taking a short break next week as the editors take some time away from Portland and the cats get a break for a short time. We'll be back for Real Salt Lake on July 19th for our panel of soccer experts and felines to provide their thoughts!!!

1 comment:

  1. Belated congrats to Rick and Spot for picking a correct outcome, while Lucy guessed the correct outcome. - The Editors