KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Eric Brunner vs. Emilio Renteria
Eric Brunner, acquired from the Columbus Crew with the second selection by the Portland Timbers in the 2010 Expansion Draft, has been a quiet but solidly stalwart central defender for the team this year. Just emerging with his hometown club in Columbus, Brunner has taken an important leadership role with his new team this season.
He has played every minute of every regular season match and helped anchor a backline that has given up only one goal in their past three matches. While much has been made this week of Brunner facing his former team; in his trademark fashion, he has gone tidily about his business saying the game is all about getting three points.
It is his consistency that has become Brunner’s calling card this season. Quick but not flashy, tough but not dirty, Brunner has been more often than not in the right place at the right time. It is a day-in-day-out calming influence that has gone a long way to stabilizing the entire squad.
It is this consistency in leading the Timbers defense and how it lines up against a Columbus Crew attack led by the talented by potentially unpredictable Emilio Renteria that leads us to soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up of The Match.
KeyBank Match-up of the Match
With the Black and Gold, Emilio Renteria has, much like the team itself, had moments of true magic and others where he’s disappeared.
A short but brawny forward, Renteria has utilized his strength and speed to get open in the box and power goals into the back of the net. When he’s been on, he’s been very on. Witness his come-from-behind-and-winning brace against Vancouver Whitecaps FC with goals coming only nine minutes apart. With four goals overall, Renteria currently leads the Crew in scoring making him their primary offensive threat.
But when he’s been off, he’s been way off. In scoreless shutouts and draws for Columbus, Renteria had his shots limited and his role diminished becoming something of a cypher. You don't quite know what you're going to get.
Should Renteria get inspired while at the energetic JELD-WEN Field, it will come down to Brunner’s constant solid defense to help neutralize the talented striker. Brunner will have help—Futty Danso’s great play of late will come in handy—but Brunner’s stability and his knowledge of his former team will go a long way on Saturday towards determining the trajectory of the Timbers continued rise.