As the Portland Timbers arrive in Quebec to take on the Montreal Impact on Saturday (11am PT, KPDX TV, Timbers Television Network, 750AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM), they’ll be facing a team that, much like themselves a year ago, were looking to build an identity and core. Impact head coach Jesse Marsch has assembled a team with youth and a stable collection of veterans even similarly plucking a former Kansas City midfielder for his captain: Davy Arnaud.
SAVE: Ricketts stops DeRosario
Much like Portland’s inaugural season move of acquiring proven MLS goalkeeper Troy Perkins, Montreal’s new squad likewise picked up veteran goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. The MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2010 while with the LA Galaxy (Perkins won the honor in 2006 with D.C. United), Ricketts was acquired in the offseason via trade in exchange for allocation money. The Jamaican international arrived in Canada to provide leadership and steadiness to the Montreal defense.
The two share All-Star nods and European playing experience however for this match, Perkins may have a slight advantage which brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
The Timbers are coming off an emotional win last week at JELD-WEN Field where they pulled off the double feat of ending their own four game losing streak and knocking off previously unbeaten Sporting Kansas City 1-0.
SAVE: Perkins keeps shutout alive
The match was Perkins first shutout of 2012—after having a career high nine in 2011—and it marked his 50th career MLS victory. It was dirty, gritty, and physical soccer.
“It wasn't pretty, it wasn't clean,” he said. “[But] to get a win, it doesn't necessarily have to be pretty.”
After having a lead in the three previous matches only to lose all three, Perkins' ability to marshal his defense against Sporting and hold the line was a turning point. And while the Timbers defense has been in flux for much of 2012 due to injuries, ITC paperwork, and other issues, Perkins—and the Timbers core as a whole—have had over a year to gel as a team. Perkins has established himself as a leader. He knows the style of play from each of his defenders and how to communicate where he wants them.
It’s an added testament to centerback Hanyer Mosquera’s skill that he has seamlessly worked his way into the backline.
With Ricketts, though his backline has Serie A veteran Matteo Ferrari anchoring a defense with the promising young Zarek Valentin and Tyson Wahl in support, what he doesn’t have is the benefit of time. Montreal, much like Portland did a year ago, is still finding their team identity and rhythm. The Impact has yet to achieve a clean sheet in 2012 and have struggled with consistency.
So while Perkins and Ricketts won’t end up battling each other for the ball on Saturday, how they help direct their teams and provide the clutch saves when called upon will go a long way in determining the outcome. Can the two ‘keepers keep things tight? Can they continue to provide stability while helping provide consistency? Whichever side is able to feed off each goalkeeper’s stature as well as make the most of the limited chances presented on offense could very well end up with the positive result in Montreal.