Much like the Portland Timbers recent familiarity with Chivas USA and having played them within the span of 10 days, Portland now faces FC Dallas having just run into their buzzsaw a few weeks ago in a forgettable 5-0 loss in Frisco, TX.
But Sunday’s match at JELD-WEN Field (4pm PT, NBC Sports Network, 750 AM The Game / La Pantera 940) is a new day and the Timbers come in with some definite positive vibes. Though they lost at home last week 1-0 against Chivas USA in a frustratingly grinding match, Portland led in possession, shots, and general inventiveness. Helping lead that charge in attack was Timbers midfielder Franck Songo’o.
Blazing down the left flank with clever footwork, expert touch, and definitive pace, Songo’o caused all kinds of problems for the Goats’ backline. This Sunday, he’ll be called upon again to provide much of the same creativeness in the attack against Dallas. Looking to shut him down—and start some offense of his own—is Dallas right back Zach Loyd which brings us to the KeyBank Match-up.
The one-time Barcelona La Masia academy product Songo’o has been gradually working his way into the Timbers starting XI. Last weekend, he was easily having his way with Chivas right back James Riley. Providing quality service in the attacking third and making peripatetic slicing runs into space off the ball, Songo’o was a threat right up until he was subbed out in the second half.
A perfect example of Songo'o's creative ability can be seen in his defensive steal of the ball against San Jose in early July that led to Danny Mwanga's first goal in a Portland uniform. After plucking the ball away, Songo'o takes off like a shot down flank in a give and go. It is a perfect example of improvisation and opportunism.
WATCH: Songo'o starts something against San Jose
Come Sunday, his ability to keep that pace going—both offensively and defensively—will be important especially given that temps at kickoff will be in the mid-90s. And while Songo’o will be among those counted on to provide offensive spark in the midfield, he’ll also have to be wary of Dallas’ Zach Loyd.
Though FCD’s David Ferreira was a thorn in the side of Portland the last time these two teams met—and remains a threat this Sunday—the former 2010 MLS SuperDraft first rounder Zach Loyd also had a strong game on that steamy night in Frisco. He cooly set up Andrew Jacobsen’s 26th minute bomb and was no stranger to getting into attack. Much like the Timbers own wingbacks in Steven Smith and Kosuke Kimura, Loyd looks to push forward on the counter and ping balls into the opponents 18-yard box. With two goals and two assists so far in 2012, Loyd remains a threat from the backline.
WATCH: Loyd lays it off for Jacobsen
For Songo’o, he’ll be counted upon to not only use his flashy stepovers and quickness to slip past Loyd, but he’ll also need to be sure to track back and help out his own left back should Loyd go on an attacking expedition. And with the heat on Sunday; possession, accuracy, and fitness will all play a part for both teams on the pitch.
Should Songo’o and the Timbers be able to translate the quality service and chances into that most important element of all—goals—then the Timbers could be back into a celebratory mood come Sunday afternoon.