Three draws in three games seems worse than it is for the Timbers. Sure, they should have taken all three points from the Galaxy and it was tough to see Nick Rimando torched by Denmark, but Portland hasn’t looked that bad so far. Their makeshift midfield has shutdown their opponents far better than I expected, the defense has been fantastic save a few mistakes, and Darlington Nagbe and Fanendo Adi have been on point to start the season. Portland is in a good spot to take three points from a hot Whitecaps team that is decimated by suspensions, injuries, and call-ups this week.
Seven players are missing from Vancouver’s roster today. Russell Teibert, Darren Mattocks, and Christian Dean have been called up by their respective nations, Kekutah Manneh and Diego Rodriguez have been suspended, and Sam Adekugbe and Mauro Rosales are out injured. Today’s game is going to be all about stopping Pedro Morales and the electric Octavio Rivero. Rivero has scored in each match this season and can’t be given space until the final whistle. This is where Portland’s injuries come back into play.
This week it’s Jack Jewsbury who is out after sustaining a concussion last week in Kansas. George Fochive played well against Real Salt Lake and will be once again called into action, this time paired with Diego Chara. I’m much happier to have Fochive lining up with Chara than with Jewsbury. With Captain Jack you know what you’re going to get, but his lack of speed worries me with someone like Pedro Morales. Plus, Chara helps to open up the attack and keep the ball moving from the defense to the attack and this is needed with Dairon Asprilla and Alvas Powell still working to link up consistently.
Portland has the historical advantage in BC Place, but that didn’t help anything last week in Kansas. Still, I think Portland can come away with three points as long as the midfield can hold their own. Nagbe and Asprilla are the two to watch. Kah and Waston are known to give up PKs and the Timbers’ speed should try to take advantage.
Update: Adekugbe is in the starting lineup after all according to @whitecapsfc! The Timbers have also moved to a 4-4-2 with Urruti starting over Asprilla, something many have been waiting for.
Portland Timbers: Kwarasey; Villafana, Ridgewell, Borchers, Powell; Wallace, Fochive, Chara, Wallace, Nagbe; Adi, Urruti
Vancouver Whitecaps: Ousted; Adekugbe, Kah, Waston, Beitashour; Koffie, Laba; Hurtado, Morales, Mezquida; Rivero