KeyBank Match-up: Diego Chara vs. Tim Cahill
Diminutive in height but deceivingly strong, quick, box-to-box ability, and powerful on the ball—these are all apt descriptions of the New York Red Bulls new Designated Player signing Tim Cahill.
A two-time participant in the World Cup with Australia, Cahill is also a long time veteran of the English Premier League with Everton. Much like Torsten Frings—whom was featured in the KeyBank Match-up earlier this week against Toronto FC—Cahill brings international experience, leadership, and great skill to an already talent-laden Red Bulls side.
WATCH: Cahill heads it to Holgersson
Versatile in the midfield with a primary attacking role, Cahill has already been in 2 MLS games and has two assists to show for it—the first of which showcased his startling aerial ability. For a team already filled with attacking options in Thierry Henry, Kenny Cooper, and Sebastian Le Toux, Cahill is looked to be among those helping pull the strings and direct the assault.
But the Timbers have their own diminutive, rock-solid box-to-box midfielder and Designated Player looking to shut him down in Diego Chara.
How the Colombian will help break up the Australian’s forays on Sunday (4 pm PT, KPTV / Timbers Television Network, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940) brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
Though not always noticed on the scoresheet, Timbers midfielder Diego Chara has been the epitome of steady all season. Blessed with an engine that will not quit, the 5’8” midfielder—two full inches shorter than Cahill—zips across the midfield helping ease the transition of the ball forward or wrecking havoc in defense for opposing interlopers. Much of his work goes unseen, but his touch and soccer knowledge on the field is a true asset.
With GM/interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson giving Chara more freedom to roam in the midfield of late, Chara has more initiative to create. But he won’t want to forget about Cahill as the New York playmaker has quickly established himself in the Red Bull XI.
Well known to Everton fans, Cahill had too much respect for them to play for another EPL side. When New York came calling, Cahill jumped. "I think with opportunities in football, you can't stutter," he said during his introductory press conference.
His play on the field mirrors that sentiment. With incredible awareness around the goal, Cahill rarely hesitates with his movements. Decisive and ruthless, Cahill is the kind of player who always happens to be in the right place at the right time not by sheer luck but by incisive alertness of what is happening around him both while on and off the ball.
Chara shares many similar characteristics and can often be seen swooping in from seemingly nowhere to break up a play or break out on the counter. Though he may not have the same offensive stat numbers, Chara does all the little intangible things that often add up to a well-rounded performance.
Come Sunday, Chara—and the whole Timbers XI—will need to put in a solid full 90 to stop the talented Cahill and his Big Apple teammates.