MatchDay Preview: Timbers put home streak on the line against D.C.
The Portland Timbers once again are putting their undefeated JELD-WEN Field league record on the line when they entertain D.C. United on Sunday afternoon (2pm PT KPDX TV, estrellaTV 8.3; 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM, MLS MatchDay Live). The Timbers have won five games on the trot at home, last a 1-0 win against Columbus. United are unbeaten in three games after a 1-1 draw with Colorado two weeks ago. The clubs also share a common opponent in Holland’s AFC Ajax, who they’ve faced in friendlies over the last week.
The Portland Timbers maintained their perfect league record at their home ground, defeating the Columbus Crew 1-0 on Saturday evening at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers have 17 points from 10 games, sitting in a tie for third place in the Western Conference to begin the week.
- The game’s lone goal came barely 30 seconds after the second-half restart. Jack Jewsbury took a quick free kick from beyond the right corner of the area to midfielder Kalif Alhassan inside the box. He then floated a cross to the far post where Eric Brunner nodded the ball into the goal.
- Timbers coach John Spencer maintained the same team for fourth consecutive match, keeping the group that played to a 1-1 draw with Seattle Sounders FC at Qwest Field.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-1-3-2): Troy Perkins - Jeremy Hall, Mamadou Danso, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace - Diego Chara - Darlington Nagbe (Sal Zizzo 46), Jack Jewsbury, Kalif Alhassan (James Marcelin 89) - Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Ryan Pore 84).
- The Timbers became the first expansion club in MLS history to win its first five home matches ever. The LA Galaxy won the first seven home games in that club’s history.
- The all-time record for home wins at the start of a season is 10, set by the San Jose Earthquakes in 2002. Since 2006, the only teams to win five in a row at home to start a season are Chivas (2009) and Portland (2011).
- “I told the guys they need to stop believing the press, We have no divine right to win games here at home,” Spencer said. “We need to keep having the underdog mentality. When you’ve got the underdog mentality you’ve always got something to prove, you’ve always got a chip on your shoulder. We lost the chip on our shoulder in the first half. In the second half I thought we started well.”
- Columbus native and former Crew defender Eric Brunner came back to haunt his old team on Saturday night, scoring the lone goal in the Timbers win. It was the fifth goal of 13 total scored by Portland defenders this season, and the third in a row scored from a free kick.
- “I think it’s special for him. Obviously coming up against your old club it was probably good for him to get a goal and get the winner,” Spencer said. “We’re really happy with the result. It was a great result. I don’t think it was a great performance. We can play better.”
- It was the third shutout and the third 1-0 victory in the last four matches for the Timbers, all with Troy Perkins in goal. In five matches this season, Perkins has allowed four goals, but three came in the match against the LA Galaxy – his first outing after being sidelined with a knee injury.
- “That’s what I’m here to do, and that’s something I’ve been missing – that one big save where I keep my team in it. If I (only) have to do that once every seven games, the team in front of me is pretty damn good,” Perkins said of his one testing save in the Columbus match. “It’s a good chemistry, it’s a good communication. It’s a good base; everyone knows what the next guy is going to do.”
- Rookie Darlington Nagbe made his fourth consecutive start in a wide midfield role. And for a fourth consecutive match, Sal Zizzo came on for Nagbe – this time at halftime.
- “When I come in, I like to go at players,” Zizzo said. “I have fresh legs, and maybe some of the other players are tired going into the second half. I feel fresh, and so I just try to take advantage of that.”
- On Wednesday, the Timbers fell 2-0 to AFC Ajax of the Dutch Eredivisie in the second game of their U.S. tour. Lorenzo Ebecilio (18) and Demy De Zeeuw (89) netted for the traditional European power.
- • "I think you can always learn something from every situation. I don’t think we’ll play against anybody in Major League Soccer that has the quality of that team tonight,” Spencer said. “I don’t think we can punish ourselves. There is a gulf in difference, we know that. That’s one of the biggest clubs in European soccer so it’s a great experience for us as a young club.”
- • Here’s the Timbers team: Adin Brown, Jeremy Hall (Freddie Braun 46), David Horst, Eric Brunner (Mamadou Danso 46), Rodney Wallace (Chris Taylor 46), Peter Lowry (Rodrigo Lopez 62), James Marcelin, Adam Moffat, Sal Zizzo (Brian Umony 46), Kenny Cooper (Eddie Johnson 46), Ryan Pore (Kalif Alhassan 84).
D.C. United return to league play after a week off, their last match a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids on May 14 at RFK Stadium. United have 12 points from 10 games on the year, sitting in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference at the start of the week.
- The visitors opened the scoring in the 23rd minute. Jamie Smith’s in swinging delivery from the left side wasn’t cleared by the United defense, and Drew Moor pounced on the loose ball, sliding a shot past United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
- But United pulled even in the 62nd minute. Working on the far left of the Colorado area, Chris Pontius collided with Rapids defender Kosuke Kimura. Both players went down, but referee Terry Vaughn pointed to the spot. With normal United penalty taker Charlie Davies off injured, Pontius stepped up and beat Colorado goalkeeper Matt Pickens to level the score.
- United coach Ben Olsen made two changes to the team that defeated Seattle Sounders FC 2-1 at RFK Stadium. Clyde Simms came in for Stephen King in midfield and Josh Wolff replaced Joseph Ngwenya up top.
- D.C. UNITED (4-4-2): Bill Hamid - Perry Kitchen, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic, Daniel Woolard - Andy Najar, Clyde Simms (Fred 81), Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius - Charlie Davies (Santino Quaranta 34), Josh Wolff (Joseph Ngwenya 44).
- After losing back-to-back games and conceding eight goals in those reverses, United have now put together a three-game unbeaten streak, their longest since May 29-June 10 of last year.
- “This is the part of the process that needs to get better with this young group. We think we are better than we really are because we had two games, so now we go out and forget about the commitment, the fight – all the little things that got us the results we had in the last two games,” United boss Olsen said.
- For Pontius, his goal was his third of the season, all in the last six games. He scored two goals with one assist in 17 appearances (13 starts) in an injury-plagued 2010, after scoring four goals with three assists in his rookie season.
- “He is part of a lot of the good things that we do. Physically he is pretty well-rounded, he’s strong; I think he’s getting there,” Olsen said. “But I still need more numbers from him; he still needs to get more goals and assists for us.”
- With Charlie Davies forced off injured, Santino Quaranta came on for the longest of his five consecutive substitute appearances, his longest action since back-to-back starts April 3 and 9.
- “I thought Tino did very well up top and gave us a really nice spark. It hasn’t been an easy transition for him, being on the bench, but I was really proud of him coming in and doing a good job,” Olsen said.
- With a week off, United played host to AFC Ajax of the Dutch Eredivisie, suffering a 2-1 loss Sunday at RFK Stadium.
- Here’s the United team: Bill Hamid (Steve Cronin 46); Daniel Woolard, Ethan White, Dejan Jakovic (Chris Korb 46), Brandon Barklage; Andy Najar (Rodrigo Brasesco 71), Perry Kitchen (Conor Shanosky 76), Dax McCarty (Fred 46), Chris Pontius (Stephen King 59); Joseph Ngwenya, Santino Quaranta (Blake Brettschneider 46)
- “We didn’t touch the ball for about 15 minutes,” Olsen said. “They are an unbelievable team, the way they play. It’s nice to play against a team like that. But after about 15 minutes, we started to figure it out, the game changed and it could’ve gone either way.”
- United’s lone goal was scored by rookie forward Blake Brettschneider. “I don’t see a lot of minutes with the first team, so to be able to contribute like that in a limited amount of time is huge,” he said. “We have a couple of injuries with [Charlie] Davies and [Josh] Wolff being questionable for next weekend, so for me going into that situation and the possibility of maybe seeing more playing time, it’s big for me.”
Rookie Perry Kitchen was slotted into a defensive midfield role for the game against the world power, after figuring in the back four for his league appearances. “I think anywhere I’ve put him so far he’s done a good job,” Olsen said. “We’ll see where we go from here. We have some decisions in the weekend going into Portland, a tough place to play - small turf field, so we’ll have to make some adjustments.”
REFEREE: Geoff Gamble. SAR (bench): Craig Lowry; JAR (opposite): Eric Proctor; 4th: Silviu Petrescu MLS Career: 1 game; FC/gm: 29.0; Y/gm: 5.0; R: 0; pens: 0
SPORTS MEDICINE OREGON INJURY REPORT: PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: FW Bright Dike (R Achilles rupture); GK Jake Gleeson (L elbow sprain); DF Kevin Goldthwaite (L ankle); PROBABLE: MF Jack Jewsbury (groin strain); FW Eddie Johnson (R Achilles tendinitis); MF Adam Moffat (R gluteal contusion); MF Darlington Nagbe (groin strain); FW Brian Umony (R knee MCL sprain) …
D.C. UNITED – OUT: MF Branko Boskovic (L ACL tear); MF Junior Carreiro (L ankle sprain); DF Devon McTavish (concussion); MF Kurt Morsink (R ankle sprain); DF Jed Zayner (L hamstring strain); DOUBTFUL: FW Charlie Davies (R hamstring strain); PROBABLE: FW Josh Wolff (R groin strain)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: POR: Steve Purdy (El Salvador)
SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Rodney Wallace
SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: none
ALL-TIME: First meeting.
RETURN MATCH: 8/27: D.C. United vs. Portland Timbers, 7:30 p.m. ET
• Coaches record: John Spencer vs. DC: first game … Ben Olsen v POR: first game