When: Saturday July 11th, 7:00pm
Where to watch: The Comcast Network
The Philadelphia Union are coming off a solid U.S. Open Cup victory against D.C. United, as well as a week's worth of rest, into an important game against the Portland Timbers (9-4-6, 31 points, 3rd place in West) this Saturday. Historically speaking, the Union have not had much success with the Timbers. Since playing five games against Portland, the Union have only scored twice and have never won a game, losing twice and tying them three times. However, the Union seem to have a newfound confidence (much to the credit of CJ Sapong shouldering the attack for the team) and could easily look to break the winless streak against Portland.
With Steven Vitoria and Sebastien Le Toux back in full training, the Union finally are starting to see some health coming back into the fold. Le Toux will play an important role in the Union attack as that is one of the weakest areas of the Union currently which has been beleaguered by injuries. Coach Jim Curtin will have some choices to make when it comes to the defense. Does he allow Vitoria to start as center back? If so, does he pair him with Maurice Edu or does he opt to keep the solidly performing Richie Marquez in while pushing Edu to the midfield role that we all know he is eager to play?
Defense will play a crucial role in winning this game as they will need to stop the effective attacks of Fanendo Adi and Darlington Nagbe. If the Union can neutralize this threat and maintain their aggressiveness towards the net, this could very well be the first game the Union win against the Timbers. There seems be an overwhelming amount of options for Portland going forward and a real pick your poison type of team. Despite Adi and Nagbe being huge threats, the main focus of their attack runs through Argentine Diego Valeri.
With incredible delivery on the ball, Valeri can change the face of a game with one pass, but if that wasn't enough the man has the penchat of scoring incredible goals. Want to stop Valeri, good luck, but even if you manage to do so look forward to dealing with their other options including Gaston Fernandez and Max Urruti. The Union defense will have a lot of work to do on this Portland side, but if the Union keeps the creators in check and minimize the damage, they'll have their chances.
Predicting Starting XI: Brian Sylvestre; Sheanon Williams, Maurice Edu, Richie Marquez, Fabinho; Brian Carroll, Vincent Nogueira; Andrew Wenger, Cristian Maidana, Sebastien Le Toux; CJ Sapong
I am predicting a 2-1 score line that favors the Union.