“We know that going into every game we can look at the opposition. We can break down the players. We can break down the set pieces. We can break down everything. At the end of the day, it’s up to us as an XI who goes on that field for the Portland Timbers to go and show that we’re good enough to beat them. We know ourselves that if we play to the potential that we’ve shown in games, we’ve got that chance. It’s up to us to do that.”
Those are the words of Portland Timbers striker and Designated Player Kris Boyd in talking about preparing for this Saturday's opponent in the Columbus Crew (7:30 pm PT, Presented by The Home Depot, KPTV Fox 12 | Timbers Television Network, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM).
Having gone 247 minutes since Boyd—and the team—has scored a goal of their own, Portland is hungry. Be it having goals waved off, inconsistent service, or just plain not finishing, Boyd and the Timbers have been snake bit of late.
While they received the gift of an own goal in a 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City, the Timbers were bottled up by expansion Montreal Impact to lose 2-0, had their goalkeeper Troy Perkins get his nose split open, and have fallen back into a rut.
But in Boyd, the team has a player who believes to the core of his being that every time he puts on that Portland shirt, he will score. He is vocal, invigorating, and his belief can be contagious. It is this belief in himself and his teammates combined with need to put points on the board—and Columbus’ hopes to stop him—that brings us to Timbers analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up:
|Kris Boyd||vs.||Chad Marshall|
Columbus comes to Portland sitting in a tie for eighth in the Eastern Conference with injuries, inconsistent play, and bad luck all conspiring against them. It is a familiar situation to many in Portland.
One of their strengths lie in veteran defender Chad Marshall. The MLS Defender of the Year in 2008 and 2009, Marshall is incredibly skilled at blunting oncoming attacks. With all of the injuries that have plagued the Crew this season, Marshall has been relied on more and more to keep games close.
Much as Sporting KC's Aurelien Collin battled with Boyd two weeks ago at JELD-WEN Field, look for Marshall to try to lockdown the Timbers' Scottish forward. Never one to commit a huge amount of fouls—Marshall was guilty of only 19 for all of 2011—his positioning and ability to distribute on the counter will be important for Columbus' chances.
For Boyd, he relies on quality service to convert. The electrifying Darlington Nagbe—regardless of whether he lines in the midfield or the forward position—and the rest of the midfield will be working hard to get the ball into Boyd any which way they can. Whipping balls from the outside, well-timed throughballs through the middle, or quick controlled possession passing are all fair game. Should Boyd command an inordinate amount of Marshall’s time and attention, then it is also possible that a player like Nagbe—who can often create magic out of nothing—will be able to utilize his inventiveness to help score as well.
But make no mistake, Boyd’s long European experience is one that serves him well. Boyd knows he—and his fellow teammates—have the ability and the skill to score. Come Saturday, they’ll have that chance to put it all together.