Hey! Remember the Timbers' blistering start to the 2017 season, when the demons of March were exorcised and we all thought the season would be all strawberries and cream from there on in? Um, about that. That hot start is basically all that's keeping the Timbers above the red line these days, as the Timbers are winless in five games, their last win coming way back on April 22 against Vancouver.
In those five games, the Timbers have two points, have scored four goals, and have not even looked remotely like the team we all hoped they would be in the early days of March on either side of the ball. One of the nice things about MLS, though, is that the league's intense focus on parity means that a stretch of two points from 15 still sees the Timbers in relatively good shape. They're currently fifth, but beating San Jose on Friday night would put them in third, only two points from the top of the Western Conference.
(All We Really Want Is) Goals
As mentioned, the Timbers are in a sort of barren stretch right now, having only four goals to show for their last 400+ minutes of game play after seemingly everyone on the team scoring for fun in the first four or five weeks of the season. One of the driest spells belongs to Diego Valeri, who had a terrible game against Seattle and hasn't really been himself in the last couple games.
The Timbers will have to get back to their normal goalscoring ways without the help of Darlington Nagbe, who will be away on US National Team duty, which to me indicates that Valeri will need to remember what makes him Valeri and carry the game on his back more than he has done in the last few games.
Defend Your Home
After a run of really good games to start his Timbers career, both last season and this, Vytas also had kind of a stinker against the Sounders last weekend. Until the Timbers' new CB, Larrys Mabiala, arrives in July, Vytas can't really afford to have more games like that - he's kind of the best defender the Timbers have right now, and he'll need to keep being that if the Timbers want to make it to Mabiala's arrival in about the same position they are in now.
Caleb Porter spoke this season about making Providence Park into a fortress again, but the Timbers' recent haul of five points from four home games is not the way to do that. San Jose are a beatable team, and if Portland wants Providence Park to be an intimidating venue, they have to get back to beating the beatable teams there.
Team News/Predicted Lineups
Apart from Nagbe, the Timbers are a fairly full squad this week; it was feared that David Guzmán might miss this game thanks to a Clint Dempsey elbow to his face last weekend, but he should be good to go alongside Diego Chará, returning from his red card suspension. Alvas Powell was a healthy scratch last weekend, but should return to the starting XI on Friday.
Gleeson; Vytas, Ridgewell, Miller, Powell; Chara, Guzmán; Mattocks, Valeri, Blanco; Adi
Bingham; Cato, Jungwirth, Bernárdez, Sarkodie; Cerén, Thompson, Hyka; Wondolowski, Hoesen; Ureña
Timbers v. San Jose Earthquakes
Providence Park, Portland
Friday, June 2, 2017