Portland Visits Guyana In Club’s First CCL Clash

The Portland Timbers are a long way from home right now. 4,656 miles as the crow (not the chartered jet) flies, to be exact. They took a ten hour plus flight from Boston, MA following a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution to take on Guyana’s Alpha United in the CONCACAF Champions League’s Group Stage. 

The Guyanese club Alpha United are almost completely unknown, aside from a handful of highlights from their match against Olimpia of Honduras. The Hammer, as AUFC is known, gave up a dodgy goal in their 1-0 loss to Olimpia. If that was anything to go by, then Portland shouldn’t have too much to worry about aside from the quality of the pitch and complacency.

It’s usually a cop out to blame the field for a poor performance, but they don’t play soccer in Georgetown’s Providence Stadium (yes, Providence Stadium), they play cricket. That means that the pitch looks an awful lot like the Oakland Coliseum with its large area of dirt in the field of play. More Sandlot than The Big Green, not a surface that you’d want to slide tackle on while wearing shorts. On the flip side, the hard surface should make for very fast play. With The Hammer’s loose defense this should work in the Timbers’ favor.

Portland sent 10 players home from Boston and took 18 to Guyana. Very much expected, the Timbers will be fielding a lineup consisting largely of substitute and reserve players. Weber, Kah, Harrington, McKenzie, and Powell or Jewsbury will likely make up the defense. In the midfield will be Rodney Wallace for certain, as well as some combination of Schillo Tshuma, Ben Zemanski, Kalif Alhassan, Michael Nanchoff, Jack Jewsbury, or Steve Zakuani. Perhaps more surprising though, is that both Maxi Urruti and Fanendo Adi made the journey. While the Timbers don’t exactly have another striker, it’s scary to think of the pair returning from such a distance to face Seattle next Sunday.

All signs point to a Portland Timbers rout of Alpha United. With the playoffs slowly disappearing into the horizon, Champions League might be the Rose City’s best hope for silverware in 2014. That dream starts with a win Tuesday night at 5 PM PT in Georgetown.

(image courtesy of Steve Dykes/USA Today Sports)