Timbers MatchDay: Portland vs. Chivas USA



Portland at Chivas USA

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Wednesday at Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.

TV: ROOT Sports (cable Channel 34/734).

Radio: 750 AM (940 AM Spanish broadcast).

Where they stand: Portland (5-9-4, 19 points) is ninth in the Western Conference; Chivas USA (5-7-5, 20 points) sits seventh in the Western Conference.

Last meeting: On April 7, Chivas won 2-1 at Portland.

Series history: Chivas has won two of the three meetings, including 1-0 in the one at the Home Depot Center last season.

Storyline: This is the first in a four-game mini-tournament among the teams at the bottom of the Western Conference. The Timbers next four league matches are against either Chivas USA or eighth-place FC Dallas. Portland needs to climb over these clubs to make a push for the playoffs.

Oh, and this is the first shot for GM and interim head coach Gavin Wilkinson to coach the Timbers away from home, where the club is 2-15-8 all time (0-6-2 this season).

A 1 p.m. kickoff? On a weekday? — Yes. Wilkinson suggested the atmosphere might be closer to a training session than a typical match.

Goats struggle for goals: Chivas USA has scored only 11 goals through 17 games — by far the league low. That’s an average of one goal for every 139 minutes of soccer, and it includes two penalty kicks. The Goats have not scored during open play.

Lineup options: Saturday against the Galaxy, Wilkinson used a formation of four defenders, two defensive midfielders, three attacking midfielders and a single striker. The return of Diego Chara means Wilkinson has more decisions to make. He can keep the same formation and pair Chara with Jack Jewsbury as defensive midfielders, or push Jewsbury into a more attacking position … or try something new to try to spark Portland to its first road win.

End of the road (woes)? “The monkey keeps getting bigger,” Kris Boyd said. “But it’s up to us as players. It doesn’t make a difference who’s in charge (as coach). When you cross that white line, we need to express ourselves on the pitch to get the three points.”

Leaders: Goals — Kris Boyd (7) leads Portland; Juan Pablo Angel (3) leads Chivas USA. Assists — Eric Alexander (4) leads Portland; Several players have 2 assists for Chivas.

Injury/suspension impact: Timbers D Eric Brunner continues to be sidelined by a concussion. MF/D Rodney Wallace is also listed as out. MF Franck Songo’o is listed as probable and did practice this week. No other Timbers regular is on the injury list, and MF Diego Chara returns from suspension. Chivas will be without defensive MF Oswaldo Minda (shoulder). Forward Juan Agudelo is listed as probable.

Question of the day: If — big if — the Timbers win on the road, but nobody sees it, does it really count as an away triumph?

Follow Paul Danzer all Timbers season on Twitter at www.twitter.com/col_timbers