With good behavior, Zemanski to play on

Caution-free string of games negates MLS suspension

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — Ben Zemanski was good for long enough that he figures to be in the midfield for the Portland Timbers' showdown with first-place Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

His effort in Saturday's win over FC Dallas was certainly strong. But it is good behavior that will allow Zemanski to play if — as expected — Will Johnson is unable to go because of injury.

Zemanski picked up his fifth yellow card of the season on Saturday, a milestone that usually means a one-game suspension. But MLS takes away one yellow for players who go three consecutive games without drawing a caution card. Zemanski had appeared in four without a card prior to the Dallas match.

On the caution front, Real Salt Lake is not as fortunate.

Kyle Beckerman, the glue of its midfield, will miss Wednesday's match after collecting his fifth yellow on Saturday in RSL's 4-2 loss at Los Angeles.

Porter called Beckerman one of the best defensive midfielders in MLS, a veteran who reads the game and impacts it both defensively and offensively. His absence will be noted, Porter said, but emphasized RSL has several very good backup options.

So do the Timbers. If team captain Will Johnson is forced to miss a second consecutive match with a shoulder bruise, Zemanski is a solid replacement.

"Obviously, we always miss Will because he's such a leader and he's one of the best players in the league," Porter said.

But Porter said Zemanski, who played for Porter at Akron, had a great game against Dallas.

"He got around the park and won a lot of balls," Timbers coach Caleb Porter said. "He covers a lot of ground. He's one of our most fit players and broke up a ton of plays and even got forward at times."