Matchday Preview: Independiente brings a "mentality to win"
Sandwiched in between two MLS matches, the Timbers welcome renowned Argentine side Club Atlético Independiente to JELD-WEN Field on Tuesday evening at 8 p.m. PT (Live webstream and chat in English and Spanish at www.portlandtimbers.com, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM).
Fresh off a 1-0 away loss to Columbus on Saturday, the Timbers look to clinch their first international friendly win after having lost to Ajax, Club América and West Bromwich Albion in the other exhibition matches.
Independiente, on the other hand, is hoping to use Tuesday's match as preparation for its Aug. 3 championship final match in the 2011 Suruga Bank Championship in Shizuoka, Japan.
The Suruga Bank Championship is an annual, one-game final pitting the winners of the Copa Sudamericana and the Japanese J-League Cup against each other.
"We're looking at it (Tuesday) as an important game because we need to play a final in Japan after this and we need to take it very seriously," said Independiente head coach Antonio Mohamed, a former Argentine National Team player.
Independiente, more commonly known as "el Rojo" throughout Argentina, won the 2010 Copa Sudamericana and finished sixth overall in the recently-completed 2011 Torneo Clausura. The side previously defeated the PDL's Ventura County Fusion 3-0 on July 22 in the first leg of its US tour.
"We've played very few (MLS) teams," Mohamed said on Wednesday following training at JELD-WEN Field. "There are no problems. I think the communication is the same and tactically the MLS has improved a lot over the years.
"We've seen some (Timbers) games. We know they have a couple Colombian players in (Jorge) Perlaza and (Diego) Chara and that they're not doing very well right now (as a team), but they have a great fan base."
The Independiente travel roster features several notable players who featured in the Copa Sudamericana-winning team including midfielders Hernán Fredes and Nicolás Cabrera, veteran defender Eduardo Tuzzio and talented young forward Patricio Rodríguez along with Facundo Parra, one of the 2011 Torneo Clausura's top scorers.
One of just two Argentine teams to never be relegated to the country's second division (Boca Juniors is the other), Independiente represents a strong challenge for the Timbers with an up-tempo style of play and short, crisp movement with talented scorers.
"We come to win in all seriousness. In this case, this is a preparation game for the final in Japan, but we come to win," Mohamed said. "Our mentality is to win.
"We are one of the biggest clubs in Argentina. We come to represent the history of the team as an important team. It's a very storied team and that's why every game we come to play, we come to win."