MatchDay Preview: Portland hosts New England with playoff hopes on line
PORTLAND TIMBERS vs NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
JELD-WEN FIELD, Portland, Ore.
Sept. 16, 2011
8 pm PT (FOX Soccer/Deportes; 750 AM The Game, La Pantera 940 AM)
Two teams looking to pull themselves back into the top 10 overall meet on FOX Soccer Night in America when the Portland Timbers play host to the New England Revolution at JELD-WEN Field. The Timbers kick off the first of back-toback home games just a point behind D.C. United for the final wild card spot, after their scoreless draw last week at Philadelphia. The Revolution have more work to do, seven points out after putting an end to a long winless streak with a 2-0 home win against FC Dallas last weekend.
The Portland Timbers extended their undefeated streak to three games, playing to a scoreless draw Saturday with Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. The Timbers have 33 points from 27 games, in sixth place in the Western Conference.
- Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath was credited with one save on the night, a stop of Timbers striker Jorge Perlaza just before the halftime break. Timbers goalkeeper Troy Perkins made three stops on the night.
- Union nearly grabbed all three points late, but Kyle Nakazawa's first-time effort off a Justin Mapp cross clipped the crossbar.
- Timbers coach John Spencer made no changes to the team that defeated Chivas USA 1-0 at JELD-WEN Field.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Troy Perkins - Lovel Palmer, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Mike Chabala – Sal Zizzo (Darlington Nagbe 82), Jack Jewsbury, Diego Chara, Kalif Alhassan (Rodney Wallace 73) – Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Bright Dike 61).
After back-to-back losses at Houston and Kansas City to conclude a three-game road swing, the Timbers have now taken points in three consecutive matches.
“I thought it got pretty stretched. Our wide midfielders were staying too wide defensively – there were certainly a few midfielders in the middle keeping a lot possession in front of the back four; not too many problems,” said Timbers head coach John Spencer. “I was happy with our performance tonight. It’s a very, very difficult place to play. It was a good experience.”
The game against New England is the first of back-to-back home games for the Timbers, vital for the club’s playoff hopes, with four of their final five games away from JELD-WEN Field. Portland is 8-4-2 at home; 1-8-4 on the road.
“We are where we are and this draw puts us in a great position. Going home now obviously the rest of the games are very important, and I think we all know that. We’re all incredibly hungry to get into the playoffs, we know our fans deserve it and we definitely want to do that for them,” said Kenny Cooper.
The scoreless draw was the first of the season for the Timbers. They had taken the full three points in each of their first six defensive shutouts on the campaign.
“A point on the road is always a good thing. You always want three points but it doesn’t always happen that way,” said defender David Horst. “Philly is a really tough place to play. Not many teams have won here this year, but I felt like we were ready for the fight and we did a great job.”
Goalkeeper Troy Perkins was credited with his seventh clean sheet, one away from his MLS single-season career-high, which he did in back-to-back seasons with D.C. United 2006 and ’07.
The Timbers were blanked on the attacking end for the first time in eight games. They have been shut out in back-to-back games just once this season, July 4 and 11, in consecutive 1-0 loss to Chivas USA and Colorado.
- “I think we did really well to create some good chances. Some of the ones that fell to me I wish I could have done better with them, especially the one at the end. Diego really played a super ball through to me and I wish I could have done better with that,” said Cooper.
NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION
The New England Revolution put an end to their winless streak at seven games, defeating FC Dallas 2-0 on Saturday evening at Gillette Stadium. The Revolution have 27 points from 28 matches, now in a three-way tie for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
- The Revolution were in the front after 14 minutes, goalscorer Shalrie Joseph starting the move with a ball to Milton Caraglio on the right wing. Caraglio backheeled the feed back into Monsef Zerka's path, prompting a curling cross from which Joseph directed home a diving header home at the near post.
- The home side sealed the victory with six minutes to play. Substitute Ryan Cochrane flicked on Benny Feilhaber's corner from the left flank. Rajko Lekic wriggled free at the back stick to tuck the ball home, beating Kevin Hartman at the near post.
- Revolution head coach Steve Nicol made one change to the team that reached a 4-4 draw with Philadelphia Union at PPL Park. Franco Coria came into central defense in place of Ryan Cochrane.
- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-4-1-1): Matt Reis - Kevin Alston, Franco Coria (Ryan Cochrane 73), A.J. Soares, Darrius Barnes - Monsef Zerka (Ryan Guy 80), Shalrie Joseph, Benny Feilhaber, Chris Tierney – Rajko Lekic - Milton Caraglio (Kenny Mansally 73).
The Revolution won for the first time in nearly two months, since a 1-0 victory against D.C. United on July 20, which was also their last clean sheet.
“(The second goal) just showed how we were still attacking. We were trying to score goals. We weren't just sitting back. We didn't play the perfect game, but we got three points and we're not out of it yet,” said goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Since the start of May, the Revolution have won three games. All three have come by shutout (also: a 1-0 win May 14 vs. Vancouver).
“We said to the back four tonight that if they did the job well tonight that we’d win the game, we knew we’d make chances. So it was important that we kept a good line and didn’t drop back. And they did it. And it shows that when they do keep together and they do make good decisions, then we can win games,” said Revolution head coach Steve Nicol.
In his first two games with the Revolution, Monsef Zerka has scored a goal and added an assist, setting up Shalrie Joseph’s team-leading eighth goal to open the scoring against FCD.
“You know when he gets (the ball), that pretty much we’re keeping it or he’s going to do something constructive with it and positive, as he did again tonight,” said Nicol. “He put a great ball in – it’s a great run from Shalrie, as well – but a great ball in and a great goal.”
The Revolution saw out the victory after not being able to hold a lead in six games on their seven-game winless skid, with 14 of 16 goals conceded in the stretch coming after the halftime break.
“It feels like we’re getting 4-1 lead, a 1-0 lead, a two-something lead in Salt Lake. It feels like we gets leads for fun in the first half, but can’t keep them,” said Benny Feilhaber. “Obviously, it was fantastic to see that from the guys. … Tactically we didn’t drop into a shell like we have been. It doesn’t work.”
Joseph scored his eighth goal of the campaign, tying his MLS single-season career-high set in 2009.
Rajko Lekic has netted goals in back-to-back games, the first New England player to score in consecutive matches since Joseph scored in each of the opening two weeks of the season.
REFEREE: Hilario Grajeda. SAR (bench): Bill Dittmar; JAR (opposite): Paul Scott; 4th: Daniel Fitzgerald. MLS Career: 52 games; FC/gm: 24.8; Y/gm: 3.6; R: 11; pens: 8
Sports Medicine Oregon INJURY REPORT
- PORTLAND TIMBERS – OUT: GK Adin Brown (concussion); DF Kevin Goldthwaite (L knee ACL rupture); FW Eddie Johnson (concussion); FW Spencer Thompson (R knee); QUESTIONABLE: DF David Horst (L groin strain); PROBABLE: DF Mamadou Danso (R hamstring strain); GK Troy Perkins (R hip soreness); Jorge Perlaza (illness)
- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION – OUT: MF Stephen McCarthy (L shoulder surgery); MF Sainey Nyassi (R knee MCL sprain); QUESTIONABLE: MF Pat Phelan (concussion); PROBABLE: DF Kevin Alston (L hamstring irritation); DF Darrius Barnes (L quadriceps strain); MF Monsef Zerka (L quadriceps tightness)
INTERNATIONAL ABSENCES: none
- SUSPENDED NEXT YELLOW CARD: POR: Mike Chabala, Rodney Wallace … NE: Pat Phelan
- SUSPENDED AFTER TWO YELLOW CARDS: POR: Diego Chara, Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin … NE: Milton Caraglio, Ryan Cochrane, Franco Coria, Shalrie Joseph, Rajko Lekic, Kenny Mansally, Stephen McCarthy
- ALL-TIME (1 meeting): Timbers 0 wins, 1 goal … Revolution 0 wins, 1 goal … Ties 1
- The teams are meeting for the second time this season. Stephen McCarthy of New England and Portland’s Jack Jewsbury traded first-half goals in the 1-1 draw April 2 at Gillette Stadium.
- Coaches record: Steve Nicol vs. POR: P1 W0 L0 T1 … John Spencer v NE: P1 W0 L0 T1
LAST MEETING (MLS)
- 4/2: NE 1, POR 1 (McCarthy 22 – Jewsbury 39)
- The Revolution took the lead on 22 minutes as Portland failed to clear on three separate occasions before the ball finally bounced out to Stephen McCarthy on the edge of the area. The rookie midfielder hit a bouncing volley that nestled into the far right corner of the net.
- Portland responded with the leveler seven minutes before halftime. Kenny Cooper provided the impetus with an enterprising diagonal run through midfield. He then played a diagonal ball back into Hall just above the penalty spot. Hall held off two defenders and then laid the ball off for Jack Jewsbury to slot home with his left foot.
- NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION (4-2-3-1): Matt Reis – Kevin Alston, Ryan Cochrane, A.J. Soares, Didier Domi - Stephen McCarthy (Kenny Mansally 58), Pat Phelan – Zak Boggs, Shalrie Joseph, Sainey Nyassi – Zack Schilawski.
- PORTLAND TIMBERS (4-4-2): Jake Gleeson –Steve Purdy, David Horst, Eric Brunner, Rodney Wallace – Jeremy Hall (Darlington Nagbe 66), Jack Jewsbury, James Marcelin, Kalif Alhassan – Kenny Cooper, Jorge Perlaza (Brian Umony 46).