After a tough game last week, it's time to look ahead to Chivas USA's next match, which is right around the corner on Saturday evening against the Portland Timbers. With the Goats' hosts coming off a 4-4 draw against their biggest rivals, the Seattle Sounders, last week, they are starting to get more and more anxious to find their first victory of the season. In order to help us understand what's happening in the Rose City, I spoke with Michael Orr of SB Nation Portland Timbers blog Stumptown Footy and SB Nation Soccer about the Timbers. Many thanks to Michael for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Stumptown Footy:
1. The big story surrounding the Timbers is that they haven't won yet. Has it been the schedule? Integrating new players? Trying to manage the big expectations for the club?
For the first four games of the season, the Timbers just couldn't score. Three total goals, one of which was an own goal, and one of which was a lucky, last second header in the season opener, were all Portland could muster against Philadelphia Union, Chicago Fire, Colorado Rapids and FC Dallas. Not exactly Murderers Row. In general the defending has been poor, especially in central defense, Donovan Ricketts missed two games with a suspension and the attackers have had some trouble both getting out of each other's way and being incisive in the final third.
Though the defensive woes were not corrected, the scoring troubles went out the window with four goals against Seattle Sounders on Saturday afternoon. It still didn't result in a win, but the attack finally came together in a way that was both threatening and potent. To be fair, it took the Timbers five games to get a win in 2013, and then they didn't lose again for fifteen games. Obviously the club is still without that elusive first three-pointer, but the season isn't exactly over.
2. Speaking of new players, who are some of the new additions we should pay attention to on Saturday?
All winter we spoke about Gaston Fernandez (Argentine forward), Norberto Paparatto (Argentine defender) and Steve Zakuani as the key additions. Yet on Saturday, Fernandez didn't play, Zakuani made a token appearance at the end and Paparatto was arguably the worst player on the field for the first 45 minutes. It is entirely possible that none of these players will start against Chivas USA at Providence Park on Saturday, despite being the only three important additions the club made in the offseason.
3. There are several players on the Timbers with Chivas USA connections. How are they doing so far this year?
Ben Zemanski had a solid first year with the Timbers last year but had a bit of a shocker on Saturday, screwing up several passes late in the game and conceding the equalizing penalty with a clumsy challenge against DeAndre Yedlin. Usually Zemanski is fine if unspectacular but he might not get a chance to play against his old team after such a poor string of events in limited minutes last weekend.
Jorge Villafana was an interesting addition in the Andrew Jean-Baptiste/Steve Zakuani deal but he has yet to even make an appearance in the 18. At the moment, he's not expected to be part of Saturday's line-up.
Rauwshan McKenzie is another former Goat who has not yet played this season. He saw very limited action last year after joining Portland mid-way through the season. McKenzie has been in the 18 already this year but he has not yet been called upon for even injury minutes.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for the game?
Portland destroyed Chivas in two of the three games they played last year, so the easy answer would be to fall back on those results as predictive of this weekend's encounter. But despite the goal scoring exploits against Seattle, I think the Timbers are going to struggle to reach two goals against the Goats on Saturday night. Two of the goals against the Sounders came from Diego Chara, who is unlikely to score much more again this year, and another came from Maximiliano Urruti, who had struggled mightily up until his stunning goal hit the post and bounced in. Portland should have enough to get a result against an improved Chivas side but it's not going to be as exciting or high scoring as the Seattle game.
Read my answers to Michael's questions here.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!