Thursday, August 17, 2017

Prediction Thread Week 24 - Portland Timbers v. New York Red Bulls

Not the real New York, but it's somewhat similar, right?
It's been a really strange week for the Portland Timbers, and for once, the oddities haven't been confined just to the pitch. After holding Toronto FC scoreless for nearly 60 minutes and playing reasonably well, the roof caved in as Toronto FC hung up 4 goals over the remainder of the match for a 4 to 1 win. What made the match seem worse was the fact that after TFC put up their first, Portland actually was able to keep up with TFC until the 72nd minute when goal 2 happened and 4 minutes later, it got worse. The only highlight of the contest was Diego Valeri's goal in the 89th minute off a drop pass from Jeremy Ebobisse, which ended up being his 50th goal as a Timber. The fact is, Valeri has joined rather elite company in terms of production, as he is the only Timbers player with 50 goals and 50 assists in his career - Fanendo Adi has scored 50 during his time with Portland, while NASL Timbers legends John Bain and Willie Anderson notched 50 assists - but nobody had achieved both until now. Valeri is also one of 18 MLS players to have this mark, and based upon goals & assists per games played, Diego has the third highest average with .72 Goals and/or Assist per game played in just 139 regular season MLS matches.

The historic mark was impressive, but Timbers Coach Caleb Porter was less than pleased with how some of the Timbers reacted after going down a goal. As he put it, there was still points to be had being down by 1, but some of the players hung their heads in frustration and TFC made Portland pay dearly for their lackadaisical effort. Porter was already dealing with Adi and Liam Ridgewell being unavailable for injury - Adi suffered a hamstring injury while Ridgy aggravated a quad injury late in the 3 to 1 victory over Los Angeles - but the Timbers took another hit when goalkeeper Jake Gleeson injured his hamstring scooping up a header from center back Larrys Mabiala, so Jeff Attinella was brought on to finish the match. With Marco Farfan dealing with a lingering ankle injury, Portland will be short handed for their home match facing the New York Red Bulls on August 18. The match was originally scheduled for August 20 for a national broadcast on Fox Sports 1, but MLS moved the match upon request from both teams due to fixture compression. Portland hosts Colorado on August 23 before traveling to Seattle to play the Flounders on August 27, which would have put 3 matches in 1 week for them, but the Red Bulls were dealing with a similar situation. The Red Bulls defeated Orlando City on the road on August 12 before traveling to Cincinnati to play USL side FC Cincinnati in the 2017 U.S. Open Cup semi-finals on August 15.
Cincinnati scored 2 goals to take an early lead, but New York stormed back to level the match until Bradley Wright-Phillips scored the game winner in the 101st minute to propel the Red Bulls to the final.

The Red Bulls have essentially relied upon the scoring of Wright-Phillps and the creativity of Sacha Kljestan to propel them along, but New York has seen Daniel Royer provide another scoring option for them while Luis Robles continues to be strong in goal for them. The Red Bulls under Coach Jesse Marsch have relied upon scrappy, positional play and tactical scoring to put them in fourth in the Eastern Conference, but essentially, the club only goes as far as the scoring of BWP and Royer can take them. There will be several familiar names to Timbers fans visiting tomorrow, as former MLS Timbers Sal Zizzo and Aaron Long will return back to the Rose City (Zizzo played in Portland during the 2011 and 2012 MLS seasons while Long was a draft pick of the Timbers in 2014 who mostly played in Reserve matches) while another blast from the USL past also makes a triumphant return to a place that he knows very well. There has been a lot of other big news relating to the Timbers in terms of media coverage, but we'll cover that in an upcoming entry. At this point, we are here to talk about predictions and see what our crack crew thinks might happen.

Another week, another heron. Hopefully it's a good luck charm.

Rick: Timbers 2, Red Bulls 2.

The Red Bulls come here after a 3-2 U.S. Open Cup victory in extra time on Tuesday night. 
Bradley Wright-Phillips, their leading MLS scorer (14) nabbed two and played the full 120 minutes; their second leading scorer, Daniel Roger (10), is apparently out with a knee injury. Seven regular started took part in Tuesday's game so it will be interesting to see how many see substantial playing time on Friday. I'm predicting most of them. 
For the Timbers, Roy Miller is back from suspension, but Liam Ridgewell (quad), Fanendo Adi (hamstring), and Jake Gleason (hamstring), are questionable. I'd like to see Jeremy Ebobisse get another start after providing the assist for Diego Valeri's goal during his 15 minutes appearance against Toronto. The Timbers (W0 D2 L1 F6 A8) have never beaten the Red Bulls at Providence Park.The Timbers have been caught out a couple of times in recent memory by teams coming here on a cross country flight after playing midweek. Let's hope that isn't the case on Friday.

Mark is back and thinking about a win.

Mark: Timbers 1, Red Bulls 0. 

Friday night soccer at Providence Park is one of my favorites. The New York Red Bulls hobble into town fresh off 120 minutes against FC Cincinnati in the U.S. Open Cup. This was 3 days ago. You will vaguely remember this tournament as the Timbers were eliminated a long time back. So in my humble opinion, New York will be plenty happy with a draw in this match. For the Timbers that will not be enough. The Timbers need to take maximum points for this game as well as the next home game against the Rapids. Friday's match is basically a put up or shut up match that will define the rest of the season. To add to the mix, Liam Ridgewell, Fanendo Adi and Jake Gleeson are likely out to Red Bulls game. That is not a good thing. Quue up the cliche' background thunder as there are storm clouds on the horizon. And now a thunderbold of lightning, per Jamie Goldberg "On Toronto, Porter said individuals, not full team, hung heads late. Made it sound like there could be lineup changes to correct that."

So if I were a betting man, which I am not, I would bet on a draw in this match. However, the Timbers defy logic most of the time. I see the Timbers coming out and putting an emphasis on defense and relying on a smart counter attack. I am predicting a crisp 1 nil victory with Blanco netting the game winner. If this scenario holds true, I predict the earth will go dark for a few minutes before the next match. Nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart.

I love Portland, people. I really do. I just don't think they will win.

GB: Timbers 3, Red Bulls 3.

The grey boy hasn't called for a Timbers win in some time, and the trend continues as the forever hungry one called for another draw. Unlike some other weeks where he's said there will be no goals or a loss, GB was very confident about goals as he meowed three times for Portland. Unfortunately for this week, he also meowed three times for the visitors. He was so confident of his thoughts that he promptly went to sleep after providing his thoughts. Well, I've done that too so guess like caregiver, like cat.

Yes, I know it's soccer. I just like goals.

Tortie: Timbers 17, Red Bulls 13.

The diminutive tortoise shell cat was very chatty during her interview, perhaps a bit more than usual. While it was post brushing and after dinner, Tortie was exceptionally chatty and meowed several times about goals. I honestly am not sure I got all of the meows, but I believe we got the right number. However, there were official confirmation of more for the home side than the visitors. When she was asked about if this was a football score versus soccer score, she rolled over and played coy, then got up to drink some water. One of these days, she'll get the high score she's looking for.

Do I have to do this again? Seriously?

Spot: Timbers 0, Red Bulls 2. 

Stop the presses! Spot actually picked a score in her usual way of rubbing snot on the interviewer. While I do appreciate her weeks of scoreless draws a lot to avoid massive grossness, it wasn't the case this week as Spot seemed very disinterested in the Timbers at all. When asked about the Red Bulls, it was 2 rubs and plenty of drool and other icky stuff. Thank god for hand sanitizer and soap, but it's what we do to get predictions.

Okay, I missed one week. It's not like anybody else has been on fire recently.

Lucy: Timbers 2, Red Bulls 1.

Lucy was pretty upset to not have her streak extended to three matches, and actually hid for a while before she finally relented to providing thoughts. It was 2 emphatic meows for Portland, then a long dramatic pause and 1 for New York. Considering she got 2 right, including a very improbable win for Portland over Los Angeles and her meows were pretty loud, she's confident in her decision here, which should send the Timbers fans home happy.

Everyday is International Black Cat Day as far as I'm concerned.

Moya: Timbers will win.

After watching her brother come away with the closest result last time, Moya decided she wanted to play this week and distracted Pilot with some catnip. Unfortunately, she didn't provide an actual score for the match, but when asked if Portland will win, she responded with a "meoowalarghabaaahmeowrgh". I have no idea what that means, but she said nothing when asked about the Red Bulls, so I can only assume she means that Portland will win on this week. Maybe some time, we can get a score out of here.

My vantage point for Timbers matches. Everyone looks like ants.

Kip: Timbers 2, Red Bulls 0.

I've tried statistical analysis, I've tried gut feelings, although I haven't broken out the magic 8 Ball toy, but I honestly can't figure out this Timbers side one bit. Going from unbeatable to dumpster fire week after week, it's hard to know what group will show up, but we can surmise a few things: Portland has been good at home, they can score goals and New York does have a defense that can concede goals. While Portland hasn't beaten the Red Bulls here, they have been prone to surprising things all year and I'm calling for another one this week.

1 comment:

  1. While Mark, Lucy and Moya all predicted Timbers wins, Kip gets the first prize with picking a win and the exact final score. -K