KeyBank Match-up of the Match: Jack Jewsbury vs. Benny Feilhaber
The Portland Timbers come into Friday's match against New England (8 pm PT, FOX Soccer, 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM) facing a Revolution side that features a heralded U.S. international back from abroad. Much like the Timbers having to contend with fellow U.S. international Freddy Adu with the Union last week, they're now facing New England's Benny Feilhaber who signed just two weeks after Portland picked up their first-ever MLS point in Boston back in April.
Feilhaber, who featured in last year's U.S. World Cup side, came to New England as part of an MLS allocation process. After a midseason quiet spell, he has been picking up his pace recently with a goal and and assist in his last two games.
With experience in the English Premier League as well, Feilhaber is a formidable presence. As Timbers head coach John Spencer put it, “He can win the game on his own and we need to be very wary of him when he comes here because he’s a good footballer.” Never afraid to shoot from distance, Feilhaber had a cracking goal against the Union recently in their 4-4 draw and many may remember his Gold Cup-winning volley against Mexico in 2007.
A new tool for New England head coach Steve Nicol’s side, Feilhaber’s ability and skill in the midfield brings us to the KeyBank Match-up of the Match.
|KeyBank Match-up of the Match|
Primarily utilized in an attacking position alongside MLS All-Star Shalrie Joseph, Feilhaber brings pace regardless of the team’s formation. “[Feilhaber] gives that threat from that attacking midfield role,” said Spencer. “Whether they play in a three-man central midfield or they just play in a 4-4-2.”
Blunting Feilhaber's attack will be the Timbers' Jack Jewsbury. In games of late, Portland's captain has been playing back a bit behind midfielder Diego Chara in the middle of a more diamond shaped midfield. This positioning will place Captain Jack in a prime position to deflect Feilhaber’s central presence.
However, with seven goals and eight assists in 2011, the box-to-box skilled Jewsbury is no stranger to moving the ball up-field and shooting from distance himself. The ability of Jewsbury to stop and contain Feilhaber will be important. More important, perhaps, will be Jewsbury’s ability to maintain possession and provide quality distribution and service to his midfield wings, Chara and forwards to key a counterattack.
If the stalwart Jewsbury can help keep the talented Feilhaber neutralized, it will go a long way towards keeping the Timbers on track towards their playoff ambitions.