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Match #7 Preview: Philadelphia Union at Portland Timbers

PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 30: Members of the 'Timbers Army' celebrate after the game between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake at Jeld-Wen Field on April 30, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The Timbers won the game 1-0. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OR - APRIL 30: Members of the 'Timbers Army' celebrate after the game between the Portland Timbers and Real Salt Lake at Jeld-Wen Field on April 30, 2011 in Portland, Oregon. The Timbers won the game 1-0. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
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Setting: Friday, May 6 at JELD-WEN Field in Portland; kickoff scheduled for 10:36:30 PM Eastern

Broadcast Information: Fox Soccer Channel (J.P. Dellacamera, Kyle Martino, Brian Dunseth) nationally on "Soccer Night in America" with coverage starting at 10:00 PM Eastern / Sportsradio 95.5 FM The Game KXTG (John Strong, Ross Smith), La Pantera 940 AM KWBY (Fernando Sobrevilla, Ricardo Rodriguez) in Portland / MLS MatchDay Live (it's free for this weekend and this match won't be blacked out)

Portland's Record: 3-3-1, sixth in West

Portland's Last Match: W, 1-0 vs. Real Salt Lake

For the Portland Perspective, Visit Stumptown Footy

Coming off perhaps their most resilient performance in club history, the Philadelphia Union travel cross-country to take on the expansion Portland Timbers in a nationally televised match. The Union will be without the backline services of Jordan Harvey, whose red card from last week's match means an automatic one-game suspension. While it appeared for some time that the Union might appeal to MLS to have the suspension revoked, the club ultimately decided against it.

Portland, like Vancouver, has played in some ... interesting matches in their inaugural season, mainly due to defensive lapses. Unlike the 2010 Union, though, they occur more than once or twice per match, but have not been quite as harmful as the Union's were. Make no mistake though, Portland can certainly be exploited for those mistakes -- they've conceded 13 goals in seven MLS matches (the Union, remarkably, have conceded two goals in six MLS matches).

The Timbers, however, have been flat-out dominant at JELD-WEN Field. They're 3-0-0 in MLS play there, having just last week defeated Real Salt Lake 1-0, and the atmosphere is simply electric. It will be an incredibly tough challenge for the Union to get their footing straight tomorrow once play begins. This match, perhaps more than any of the previous six the Union have played in MLS this year, will require Faryd Mondragon to remain calm, cool and collected and try to make sure his teammates aren't up-tight and finding themselves out of position. It will be very, very loud on the pitch and the Timbers, who have ten goals on the season, will take advantage of any Union miscue. It will be up to the backline to remain in position while also making tactical step-ups to try and catch Timbers players in offside positions -- perhaps more than they might on average, as Portland leads Major League Soccer in offside plays so far this season with 31.

Projected starters, up-to-date injury reports and assorted match notes after the jump...

Likely starters:

Philadelphia: Mondragon (C); Gonzalez, Califf, Valdes, Williams; Daniel, Okugo, Torres, Le Toux; Ruiz, Mwanga

Portland: Perkins; Wallace, Brunner, Danso, Hall; Alhassan, Chara, Jewsbury, Nagbe; Perlaza, Cooper

Injury updates:

For Philadelphia, third-string keeper Thorne Holder is out with a concussion. Gabe Farfan, who's been dealing with a toe dislocation on his right foot, is no longer unavailable for the Union, and is now considered "probable", along with Stefani Miglioranzi, Danny Califf and Keon Daniel, who are dealing with a right groin strain, illness and a right foot contusion, respectively.

For Portland, Bright Dike is unavailable following a right Achilles rupture, Eddie Johnson is out with right Achilles tendonitis and Brian Umony has been ruled out due to a right knee MCL sprain. Adin Brown is considered "probable" despite a hamstring sprain, along with David Horst, Jake Gleeson and Peter Lowry, thanks to a right ankle sprain, left elbow sprain and right knee MCL sprain, respectively.

Of note:

  • Silviu Petrescu is scheduled to be the match referee for tomorrow night. In 29 career MLS matches, Petrescu has called for an average of just about 29 fouls per match, handed out just under four cautions per match, given a total of six red cards and has awarded a total of four penalty kicks.
  • Danny Mwanga, who hasn't had the start to the season that perhaps he would have liked, will have the opportunity to get on the right track in his return to Portland, his 'adopted' hometown and the area where he went to college. Family and friends will be in attendance, and it seems like this might be just the set of circumstances for #10 to get on the scoresheet, and help ignite the Union's offensive game into netting more than one goal.
  • For those of us who were unhappy with Fox Soccer's broadcasters throughout last year, when the Union were featured seven times, rest assured that you won't need to mute your TV tomorrow night. J.P. Dellacamera, the Union's current play-by-play voice, and Kyle Martino, the Union's local television analyst last year, will be in the booth. Hopefully their being reunited for a Union match won't induce the team into making 2010-like mistakes, though.
The Union will look to be the first MLS side to gain a result in Portland in regular-season action, while the Timbers look to continue to show the League that the city of Portland is not to be messed with. The crowd ought to be special, and the match should be quite a spectacle. Join us for a late-night gamethread as the Union try to steal a point or three on the road -- it should be a lot of fun.