Match: Philadelphia Union vs Portland Timbers
Time: 7:00pm EST, 6:00pm CST, 4:00pm PST
Venue: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Pa.)
Officials: REF: ROBERT SIBIGA, AR1: Adam Wienckowski, AR2: Kyle Longville, 4TH: Jorge Gonzalez
Television: The Comcast Network, ROOT Sport NW
Streaming: MLS Live (Subscription only)
All-time Record: 1-3-3, -1 GD
What Portland will look like:
Do I really have to say anything else besides Diego Valeri? I do? Ok fine, but Valeri is really good, ok? No one needs telling about the Portland Timbers and their talented Argentine playmaker Diego Valeri. His volley this past weekend is just another notch on his belt of immeasurable talent. Valeri is one of the most electric players in MLS to watch and you might as well hire an army in an attempt to stall his influence on the game.
The Timbers will stroll into Chester having never scored a goal in the harsh confines beside the Delaware River. I would not be betting on that trend to continue given the form of both teams. Portland have looked the part of a contender and that doesn't just lie on the shoulders of Valeri. He's got a pretty good attacking partner in Fanendo Adi. Adi is a monster among men when lined up around the 18. Time slows down for the Nigerian international in front of goal and it usually appears that defenders lose all ability to properly defend.
These two alone cause fits to the best defenses in MLS and I shudder to think the trouble it will cause the defense lining up at Talen Energy Stadium tomorrow night.
What Philadelphia will look like:
Do I really have to talk about the Union? I do? Ok fine, but I won't like it. No one needs telling about how dreadful the Philadelphia Union have been playing recently. The struggles in finding identity three years on in Jim Curtin’s managerial tenure are alarming. The insistence in playing players in positions that don't suit their roles is concerning and the recent acknowledgement of this doesn't ease panic among the fan base. The team trotted out against D.C. United and looked a team that barely met rather than a team that had two weeks off.
If there's a time to turn the ship around and start mending the holes, it's now. The beginning of an April home stand gives the Union a chance to either master the system or fix it. If Philadelphia cannot get meaningful results here, the anger in the stands will be palpable.
There is one bright spot however in CJ Sapong. He's proven again that the Union shouldn't bench him, but then again he's been an absolute destroyer as a super sub. Three goals in four games is huge for Sapong, and we’ll see if it's enough to earn him the start.
What to expect:
This could be a 0-0 or a 4-0 loss. I can't foresee the Union turning this thing around against Portland of all teams, despite the Timbers knack for becoming fruitless under the Commodore Barry Bridge. Offensive issues are glaring and unless Haris Medunjanin literally carries the team on his back, I'm not sure they're ever going away. It's not going to be pretty in any sense of the word and I would imagine Philadelphia comes off looking worse for the wear.
Result: Portland Timbers 2-1 Philadelphia Union
Lineup: GK Andre Blake; LB Fabinho, LCB Oguchi Oneywu, RCB RIchie Marquez, RB Keegan Rosenberry; CDM Derrick Jones, CDM Haris Medunjanin; LM Chris Pontius, CAM Alejandro Bedoya, RM Fabian Herbers; ST CJ Sapong