After some time off for international breaks, the Quakes travel to Portland to play the Timbers in fourth round action. The Quakes have NEVER won in Portland, but they will win tonight. Here’s why:
- Our bench is deeper than theirs. The Quakes made a concerted effort to deepen their bench, resulting in a number of players that would be comfortable starting. Unlike previous years in which the bench was extremely suspect, this year’s bench is stacked, partly because of players coming off injury (Stewart, Cato, Innocent, Silva) and the movement of regular starters onto the bench, such as Shea and MPG. Both coaches will be resting starters to continue the regular season campaign, and the Quakes bench players that will be starting tonight should have the advantage over the Timbers bench-starters.
- There won’t be a tie. In the U.S. Open Cup, there must be a winner. Even if regulation ends in a draw, the teams would play two 15 minute halves to determine a winner, and if that doesn’t yield a victor, go to PKs. The Quakes have not fared well in PKs, so their time is due. Portland, on the other hand, had a miracle PK win versus Sporting KC last year, so I’m guessing their PK karma is used up. Regardless, I don’t think it will go to PKs.
- The Quakes are due. It’s time to win in Portland. The team knows they have never won at Jeld-Wen Field/Providence Park, even during their Supporters’ Shield campaign in 2012. The team wants to get that monkey off their back, especially after April’s disappointing 3-1 loss.
The Quakes will be missing four players to international duty: Wondo, Quintero, Godoy, and Colvey. Midfielder Simon Dawkins is also injured after training with Copa, and won’t see any playing time. I’m expecting Sarkodie to start at right-back, Imperiale and Victor at center-back, with Francis at left-back. I would expect MPG to start at right wing, Tommy and Fatai in the middle, and Shea at left-wing. Forwards should be Jahn and Quincy, as Quincy has been injured and needs to return to form, and Jahn has impressed in Sacramento so far this season. Whoever starts in goal will settle the second-keeper debate for the next year or so; I’m guessing Meredith.
I’m predicting a 2-0 scoreline, with goals by Tommy and MPG.
Game time is at 7:30pm, and won’t be on live television. It should be streamed live on youtube, or through the Quakes website; will update when I know for sure.