KeyBank Match-up: David Horst vs. Chris Wondolowski
Fourteen goals in 15 games.
That is the current tally for San Jose Earthquakes forward Chris Wondolowski. The former 41st overall selection of the 2005 MLS Supplemental Draft, "Wondo" has become the definition of a late bloomer and a force to be reckoned with in MLS. In short, he is a gunslinger.
His rise and play this season has helped vault the Earthquakes to first place in the Westeren Conference in 2012 and they come to Portland fresh from an energizing victory over the LA Galaxy.
Among those tasked with stopping Wondolowski on Tuesday night (7:30 pm PT; KPTV Fox 12, Timbers Television Network; 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940) will be Timbers center back David Horst. How the big physical Horst is able to potentially shut down the dangerous Wondolowski brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
Wondolowski’s ability is well known throughout the league.
“He is a fantastic ball striker, a fantastic goal scorer,” said Timbers assistant coach Amos Magee.
“[San Jose has] played him wide in the midfield, they’ve played him underneath forwards and he’s been very impressive.You always have to keep track of him.”
Much of that tracking will fall on Portland’s Horst. The second-year TImbers player comes into the game on the rise after coming back from a long offseason rehab.
Having built up fitness via reserve games, a friendly against Valencia CF, more spot duty in first team games and then back-to-back CenturyLink Man of the Match performances in a loss against LA and the big win against Seattle Sounders, it could be said—putting aside last weekend’s loss to Colorado for a moment—that Horst’s form has been on the upswing.
That form wlll be put to the test with a ‘Quakes offense that leads the league in goals scored. Not only is Wondolowski a formidable threat, fellow strike partner Steven Lenhart is equally dangerous and former USL Timbers forward and late-game super sub Alan Gordon waits in the wings for scene-stealing cameo performances.
On this stage Tuesday night, it will all come down to who can play their part most effectively.
Wondolowski will bob and weave looking for an opening in the Timbers backline but Horst will also be able to call in some help. Fellow center back Futty Danso will be equally busy as the two will need precise communication and positioning to help snuff out the San Jose attack. Make no mistake, the challenge is large. But should Horst play another solid game on the backline—with help from Danso and his stalwart goalkeeper Troy Perkins—the Timbers may be able to translate more of that home field energy into a needed three points.