Monday, June 29, 2009

Stadium Updates for June 29, Match Preview for Timbers - FC Flounders

There's been more talk of trying to revive the Memorial Coliseum as the site for the triple AAA baseball stadium here in Portland. The Oregonian did some more research into baseball sites in the Portland area, and the most popular sites were all listed with pros and cons. At least on the surface, the Portland Meadows site seems to have some advantages, having parking there and it's relatively close to transit, while Delta Park seems like the worst possible option. So you aren't going to allow park land to be taken for baseball, yet people in this town would advocate taking a popular amateur sports complex and putting a stadium there?

A guest opinion in the O talked about the situation in Baltimore with their Memorial Stadium, that soon lead to them building Camden Yards and the Ravens stadium in the area once the NFL returned. This led to some pointed comments from various sources, including Brian Libby, who has been the most vocal of the architectural preservationists. I get the significance of the Memorial Coliseum, but as I put in a response to comments that he made, I'd feel differently if there was a better site for baseball then there, I'd feel differently if the Trail Blazers had kept up on their promise to maintain the building, I'd feel differently if the MLS said the teams could share for a few years while we figured out a good site. But since none of those statements are true, and we've looked at all the reasons why PGE Park can't be shared by soccer and baseball and the cost of putting up a triple AAA ballpark is less than building a soccer stadium to MLS specifications, the course of action that is best for the city is to find a new home for baseball. But then again, logic hasn't been a big part of this stadium discussion, so why should I expect the facts to be considered otherwise.

Since I'm going to be very busy preparing for Wednesday, I thought I'd do the match preview for Timbers - FC Puke Green now.

Game Time: Timbers vs. FC Puke Green in the 3rd round of the US Open Cup, the premier American open soccer competition. It pits teams from various levels of US Soccer in a single elimination tournament. Portland beat the Kitsap Pumas and Sonoma County Sol to earn the right to face the Flounders, who are playing their first Open Cup match. The Timbers bid to host the match, and so it's here on Wednesday at PGE Park at 7 PM.
Broadcast: You can listen to the match at, on the Game 95.5 (http://www.955thegame/) or watch the Timbers Senior match on Fox Sports Northwest (channel 34 in the Portland area) around the northwest.
Special Events: It's renewing a rivalry that has been around for years, but had it's final game in the USL last season when the Flounders visited the Timbers in August 2008. The Timbers and Flounders will meet again in 2011 when both teams will be part of MLS, unless they met in the Open Cup.
Overall History: The Timbers have 11 wins, 16 losses and 5 draws in their USL history against the Flounders. The Timbers are 7 - 7 - 3 at PGE Park against them, while sporting a 4 - 9 - 3 record in the Emerald City for various matches. The last meeting was August 2008, with the Flounders winning 1 to nil here, although the Timbers Army had a grand time, bringing a coffin with a whale into the park to mark the death of the USL Flounders.
Timbers Form: Still unbeaten in 12 league matches, a friendly and 2 Open Cup matches since losing their opener in Vancouver. They sit with 26 points at 7 - 1 - 5, and most recently, they beat Montreal at home 4 to nil on Sunday June 29th. The Timbers have a busy week with 4 matches this week (Wednesday, Thursday at home and Saturday in Minnesota).
Timber Player Updates: Ryan Pore, Tony McManus and Takuro Nishimura and Automann Jallow have been injured over the past few weeks, but they are all healthy and available for selection on Wednesday.
Timber Key Players: Mandjou Keita continues his hot streak, as he takes over the goal lead for the team with 6 goals, followed by Ryan Pore and Brian Farber with 3 goals, and then George Josten with 2. Josten leads the team with 4 assists, followed by David Hayes and Ryan Pore with 3 each. The forwards are now finding their shot, and putting shots on goal, which is great to see, but really the midfield is the engine for this team. Brian Farber, Johan Claesson and Keith Savage really held their form last night, and with Taka Suzuki, they have learned how to control the middle very well. The defense is doing well, with 6 goals given up, and only two real chances last night versus Montreal and the only Impact goal was waived off due to a player being offsides. We are certainly playing well right now, and after these home matches, we have our longest road stretch of the season in July before having the schedule balance out a bit.
Upcoming Timbers Matches: The Timbers play 7/2 in a friendly against Bayern Munich II and then head to the road to play Minnesota on 7/4, and then they have a bit of a break before heading to Austin to play there on July 11th, and then a long road trip to Miami to face the Blues for 2 matches on the 17th and 19th.
Flounder Form: They beat the Colorado Rapids 3 to nil this weekend, preceded by draws against DC United and FC Energy Drink the preceding weeks, and then the Flounders get a break until July 11th when Houston comes to visit Qwirst Field.
Impact Player Updates: Backup keeper Chris Eyelander has been struggling with a knee problem, so the team signed former FC Energy Drink keeper Terry Boss. At this point, we don't know if Keller or Boss will start for
Impact Key Players: I spent a few minutes on their site to get some stats, and trying to get the smell out. Fredy Montero leads the Flounders with 8 goals, followed by former Portland Pilot Nate Jaqua with 6 goals, while Montero has 6 assists and Jaqua has 5 assists, while former USL mid guy Sebastian Le Douche has 3 assists. Kasey Keller, another former Pilot and EPL keeper, has started 15 games in the pipes, and played really well for them in stretches. The FC Flounder defense has played well at times with Tyrone Marshall, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, James Riley and Patrick Ianni really holding the fort well, as the Flounders don't give up a lot of goals. In most of their games, though, the question seems to be are they going to score enough to hold up the lead.
Key Notes: The Timbers have another long stretch of games coming up, so depth is the key, and as much as I love the chance to advance in the Open Cup, there is a key stretch of league matches coming up. However, most recently, Montreal rested some players in a competition against Toronto to prepare for a league match versus Vancouver, and they lost the competition match but got the league win anyway. There's plenty of new players on both squads that have never played in a Timbers - Flounders derby, but there are some holdovers that know what the game is like, so I would expect both sides to be charging up their troops.
Prediction: The Flounders have something to lose here, being the MLS side and the expectation is that they should win down here if they play their top players. But they are being coy about who is making the trip down, and who will be starting, so I would expect that they would have a side with many reserves and some starters sprinkled in. Portland, meanwhile, is going to use their depth and play their top side on Wednesday, knowing they have a match on Thursday that while should be a good test, has no meaning so they can play some reserves while they get ready for a tough road match on Saturday in Minnesota. The fans are keyed up, so I expect a big showing from both sides, and my hope is that there's no problems between supporters. I predict that it will be a hard fought match, and the Timbers magic at home remains with a tough, but well earned 2 to 1 victory. We always win 2 to 1!!

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