Portland comes to town with a win guaranteeing them hardware and a loss possibly capitulating the Timbers to a play-in game next week. The match, 7:30pm at the StubHub Center (TV: KDOC/KWHY) will likely be the last time we see several Chivas USA players as another potential offseason purge looms.
Onto the preview!
Tale of the Tape:
Chivas USA: 26 points, 6-19-8, 9th place Western Conference (17th overall). GD: -32 (30/62). Last five: L-L-L-L-D
Portland Timbers: 54 points, 16-9-8, 2nd place Western Conference (4th overall). GD: 14 (33/16). Last five: D-W-D-W-W
Key Match-up: Portland's prison break versus Chivas USA's wardens
Look for Portland to throw everything but the kitchen sink into this match. Expect Portland to push the ball and use it's athletic wingers--Rodney Wallace, Kalif Alhassan, Jose Adolfo Valencia - -to find balls from Diego Valeri and smash them home. Chivas will try to dictate a slow pace, and have no problems playing the long ball which in attempts to stymie the Timbers' rhythm.
Why Chivas will win: Chivas makes its bread and butter on quick counters by pressing opposing defenders. A misplayed ball and a bright run by Bryan de la Fuente got Chivas a goal in their last encounter. By pressing Portland's centerbacks, who are not usually the best ball handlers, Chivas will find a way to create turnovers on the Timbers' side of the field.
Why the Timbers will win: Portland boasts an impressive arsenal of weapons and a coach with an impressive acumen (The Guardian's Graham Parker conducted an interview with Portland coach Caleb Porter that you can read here.) Portland is able to build an attack, get their wingers past their markers and beat whomever is in goal.The game means little for Chivas USA but it's a must-win game for the Timbers.
Why the match will end in a draw: Erick Torres has been held in check for the last six games. If he can snap out of his current slump it might keep it a see-saw battle, particularly with Portland obviously committing so many resources to its attack
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!