KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Jack Jewsbury vs. Erik Friberg
There are rivalries and then there are rivalries. There’s USA vs. CCCP. Hatfields vs. McCoys. Dog vs. Cat. Up vs. Down. Immovable Object vs. Unstoppable Force.
And then there’s Portland vs. Seattle. And it’s not just the Timbers vs. the Sounders. The rivalry of the two cities has existed for decades and covered everything from economies, to music, to industries, to universities, to coffee and more. While Seattle likes to say brag that they’re the bigger brother, it’s actually Portland which is the older sage one.
For MLS, the renewal of this incredible soccer rivalry took place on a rainy stormy night in Seattle in May with a 1-1 draw as a result. The KeyBank Match-up of the Match then was the recently arrived Diego Chara vs. Osvaldo Alonso with a battle in the middle as an important element to the run of the game.
Now a few months have passed. The Sounders are flying high and the Timbers have hit a snag—to put it mildy.
But as with any great rivalry game, you can throw records out the windows as anything can and often does happen. And yet, even with this heightened excitment for the Timbers, the game itself still remains the same. 11v11. And once again, Sunday's clash (1:00pm PT, ESPN/ESPN Deportes, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM) comes down to a battle in the middle.
|KeyBank Match-up of the Match|
By now, you’ll have noticed that we’ve talked a lot about the central midfield in our KeyBank Match-up’s. It’s an extremely valuable piece of real estate on a soccer pitch. While there are many threatening Sounders assets in Mauro Rosales, Fredy Montero and the ever-polarizing Roger Levesque, the player that may pose the biggest threat to the Timbers on Sunday is the emerging Erik Friberg.
Signed last year from his native Sweden, Friberg has gradually taken the reigns in the center mid position on the attack. Though his numbers are modest with only one goal and two assists, his biggest asset is his ability to float and keep his opponents guessing. With fellow center mid Alonso dropping back to help in defense, Friberg goes marauding across the field. Sometimes he heads out wide to play the ball in, other times he hangs back as a trailer to shoot from distance.
In last week’s match with Kansas City, the Timbers had a hard time with Sporting’s fluid five man midfield. This week, it is essential that Captain Jack take the reigns and work with fellow center mid Diego Chara to disrupt Friberg and his cohorts all while pressing into Seattle’s final third. Jewsbury will have the raucous Timbers Army in his corner off the field but on the field, he’ll also have coming-into-form Darlington Nagbe—fresh from his world-class Goal of the Week golazo—the ever-threatening Kalif Alhassan, and the blindingly fast super sub Sal Zizzo to help in his task.
Should Jewsbury and his teammates be able to storm the ramparts in the middle, then we could all be in for a very memorable afternoon at JELD-WEN Field.