The Orange County Blues will attempt to put their first road loss of the 2015 USL season quickly behind them, as they move a little way down the 5 and will play Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park this evening (6 pm PT). It will be an interesting game on several fronts, not least because it will be OC's second game in three days.
Yes, the Blues lost on Friday to the Seattle Sounders FC 2, snapping their three-game winning streak. But they played relatively well despite the loss. The issue heading into this Portland match is that this opponent will likely play as well if not better than the Blues' last one, and there is almost certainly going to be a great deal of squad rotation among Oliver Wyss' group.
Since the game will be played at the Timbers' MLS ground, and since it will be after the MLS team played at home on Saturday, it is expected that T2 coach Jay Vidovich will draw upon several first team players for this game. One player essentially guaranteed to start is midfielder Will Johnson, who made his 2015 competitive debut last week for Timbers 2 in a rehab stint after breaking his leg last fall. Besides him, expect other MLSers to supplement the side on the night for T2.
For Wyss, the question is whether he'll try to put out as much of his strongest squad as possible, or alternately if he will put a new group on the field from Friday's game and see which players can impress in Portland. Wyss has mostly played the same guys so far this season, so this could be a game to see if some of the players lower on the depth chart deserve to see more playing time.
Of course, we'll have to see what happens with both lineups come game time. Either way, it's going to be a test for Orange County. That said, they have yet to really play badly this season, so if they can continue to put in good performances, more often than not they should see results. With T2 ahead of them in the Western Conference standings it could give them the motivation to finish the job they couldn't against Sounders 2 the other night.
If you missed it, be sure to check out the Three Questions feature we did with Stumptown Footy ahead of this game.
Tale of the Tape:
Orange County Blues: 9 points (3-2-0), 5th place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: 4 (9/5); Last five matches: L-W-W-W-L
Portland Timbers 2:10 points (3-2-1), 3rd place in Western Conference; Goal Difference: 1 (9/8); Last five matches: W-L-L-T-W
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