Clean sheets. There’s nothing like jumping into bed with a set of clean sheets waiting to welcome you to a well-earned rest.
Clean sheets are also one of the best things a soccer team defense can help create. As has been mentioned in previous KeyBank Match-up’s, achieve a clean sheet and you’re guaranteed at least a point.
The Timbers have taken that to heart over the past two matches with two straight clean sheets in 0-0 draws against both Columbus Crew and Houston Dynamo. So while the offense has been stuck, the defense has helped create points out of thin air.
Moreover, that defense has done this despite the lineup having been in flux. Waiting on work visas, injuries, more injuries, and now a suspension has brought a number of different players to the backline. Troy Perkins has certainly played brilliantly over this past stretch with shutouts in three of his last four matches, but he’s also had the help of the emerging centerback Hanyer Mosquera.
Mosquera himself is no stranger to being in and out of the lineup this season with International Transfer Certificate delays and a fractured orbital bone/concussion sidelining him for a bit. But the imposing Colombian was brought here to play and he has since established himself as one of the constants in head coach John Spencer’s Starting XI.
But that stretch of clean sheets will be put to the test on Saturday as the Chicago Fire come to Portland on a recent upswing in their run of form (4 pm PT, Presented by ProGrass ROOT SPORTS, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940). Helping lead the charge is the breathtakingly fast Dominic Oduro. How Mosquera & Co. can keep their hold on the clean sheet vs. the fleet Oduro brings us to Timbers soccer analyst Robbie Earle’s KeyBank Match-up.
After numerous seasons of fits and starts, Oduro found his footing last season with 12 goals. He currently leads the Fire with four tallies and put in the game winner last week in a come-from-behind win against Sporting Kansas City. Oduro darts and slices through opposing defenses and loves to attack from numerous angles. Even his Twitter handle is quick: @FreakyFast8. Take a look at Oduro's heatmap in his match from Sporting KC from the MLSsoccer.com Chalkboard feature to get a feel for just how broad the striker's zone of attack is.
While the speedy Ghanaian will be buzzing around the Timbers box, Mosquera will be there to block his way. Though early into his MLS career, Mosquera has begun to build a reputation for expertly timed tackles. Oduro may be fast, but Mosquera is also deceivingly quick. His long strides efficiently gets him into perfect position to help neutralize attacks.
Plus, Mosquera will have help. A locked in Troy Perkins as well as solid defensive help from midfielder Lovel Palmer have been key in holding down the fort for the Timbers of late.
As Mosquera and his defensive allies work to keep the Timbers’ clean sheets preserved, they’ll also be able to quickly transition the ball to their midfielders and contribute to the offense. Spencer’s centerbacks have been known to get involved in set pieces occurring in the attacking third as well with goals last year coming from Eric Brunner and Futty Danso and this year via rookie Andrew Jean-Baptiste. Perhaps Mosquera will add himself to the scoresheet on Sunday.
But first things first: shut down Oduro and the Fire. Do that, and the Timbers could be well on their way to a well-earned rest.