Screaming fans. Adulation. Supporters going nuts. Flags waving. Chants galore. Close plays. Screaming at the ref. A timely goal. Victory.
Scenes from the Portland Timbers home opener this season? No, rather it was the setting last Saturday as Brad Davis wrote his name into the Houston history books with his 67th minute 35-yard screamer that put the Dynamo up 1-0 against D.C. United in the first game at their glittering new BBVA Compass Stadium.
An ebullient Davis sprinted into the sea of orange in the stands to celebrate and the party was on.
For the Timbers, celebration has been fleeting this season. But their play of late has been gritty. Despite having not scored a goal in the past three matches, the Timbers have managed to pull four points out of those games and two clean sheets. Lineup changes in last week’s 0-0 draw with Columbus generated more shots and a more fluid attack as a step forward to getting the offense on track.
And getting that offense on track is paramount for the Timbers. Tonight, they take on Houston in the first MLS night game in the Dynamo's glittering new home (5:30pm PT, ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940 AM). With Houston still energized by the emotional win—a feeling the Timbers themselves parlayed into five straight home wins a year ago—Portland will be looking to transfer their party invitation into a different sort of statement. The celebration is still on deep in the heart of Texas but the Timbers' plans to crash it bring us to Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up:
Houston, last year’s Eastern Conference Champions, come into the match full of good vibes and a city that is behind them. With the lights on Tuesday night, the crowd will be a rollicking, loud, and ready for more. Saturday’s match included flyovers by orange Coast Guard helicopters, pomp, circumstance, and pageantry and tonight’s match will certain to be an electric environtment as well.
But that electricity is something the Timbers are well aware of. Defeaning, boisterous, and energetic is the base line for JELD-WEN Field. That knowledge and experience of playing in front of fired up crowds will come in handy.
Another variable is Houston’s lineup. The Dynamo has played four matches in the past eleven days, with tonight’s less than 72 hours from Saturday’s as well as their third game in less than a week. Their lineup will see presumable changes. Dynamo head coach said as much following their last match, “We are going to change things up. It would be a crime to ask these guys to play 90 minutes again," he said. "Unfortunately, you don't get the chance to rest with a schedule like this."
Make no mistake, whatever lineup Houston fields, they will be physical and driven. Will the adrenaline and intensity carry over from Saturday?
For the Timbers, for them to crash the party, they’ll want to start their own shindig via generating some much needed offense. Rodney Wallace’s move to the midfield last week brought pace on the left flank and Darlington Nagbe will look to break through the Dynamo backline. Kris Boyd has been snake bit since his goal against LA over a month ago but should the Timbers work on getting service to him in the box, he and the rest of the Timbers squad could begin a Portland celebration far from home.