KeyBank Match-up: Franck Songo'o vs. Simon Dawkins
Creativity. It is a word bandied about often on a soccer pitch. Which player has it? Where does it come from? When can it be counted upon?
For the Portland Timbers on Wednesday night against the San Jose Earthquakes (7:30pm PT KPDX, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940), they’ll be looking to a player that has cunning creativity in abundance to help push them: Franck Songo’o.
Songo’o has been on a slow rise throughout 2012. After a promising preseason trial that secured him a spot on the first team roster, Songo’o worked early on form and fitness while adjusting to Major League Soccer.
The former La Liga and English Premier League vet has come on strong over the past month and half bombing up and down the left flank with direct play, flashy stepovers, and quality service into the box. He’s no stranger to tracking back either getting involved on defense and adding a general sense of grit across the Timbers XI.
But come Wednesday night, the Timbers will face an offensively loaded Quakes side that features a left midfielder of their own who comes with a European pedigree in Simon Dawkins.
How those two players are able to have an impact brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
Songo’o has become a key cog in interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson’s XI having started each of the last five games tallying a goal and an assist over the stretch. That particular goal was a thing of beauty via an audacious free kick that gave the Timbers the win over the Vancouver Whitecaps at JELD-WEN Field.
WATCH: Songo'o's rocket against Seattle is saved
But beyond his burgeoning responsibilities and ability on free kicks, Songo’o has displayed an innate vision on the pitch as well. True, he will come at defenses directly with speed and confident flair, but he has also of late shown that he can make passes that quickly fillet an opposing side and get right to the foot of an onrushing forward such as Bright Dike or speedy fellow midfielder such as Darlington Nagbe. Moreover, Songo’o can be ruthless. If he sees the opportunity to shoot, he will not shy away from the chance of uncorking a laser on target.
At 24, Dawkins is only a year younger than Songo’o but also displays much of the same killer abilities: pace, ability on the ball, and killer instinct in finishing. The England native is spending his second year on loan with the Quakes from storied London club Tottenham Hotspur having come up through their academy ranks.
WATCH: Dawkins turns and scores against Chivas
Given the chance to play and play often over the past two seasons, Dawkins has seized the opportunity. Second only to MLS leading goal scorer Chris Wondolowski on the team in shots with 58, Dawkins is not afraid to go to goal and his seven goals on the 2012 campaign remain a testament to that. He can show spark and incredible acceleration on the left flank.
While Songo’o will be terrorizing San Jose’s right defensive side, Dawkins will be looking to do much the same to Portland. Add in the offensive firepower of Wondolowski and Alan Gordon—with Steven Lenhart in reserve off the bench—and Dawkins will have plenty of opportunity to roam and both provide and receive quality service.
Should Songo’o be able to create and utilize the help of quicksilver smooth Darlington Nagbe in the center of the park and the equally fast Sal Zizzo on the opposite flank, then the Timbers could potentially provide some dangerous rumblings of their own in San Jose.