PORTLAND, Ore. – The Portland Timbers’ road to redemption from a disheartening 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution last weekend just got a little rockier.
Head coach John Spencer announced after training on Friday that his side will face Real Salt Lake this Saturday at JELD-WEN Field (10 pm ET, watch LIVE online) without midfielder Kalif Alhassan, who has been arguably one of the Timbers’ most potent offensive weapons this season. The speedy right winger, who has a goal and an assist, has been nursing a left groin injury suffered in the first half against the Revs.
“We’ll give him a couple days off,” Spencer said. “And hopefully get him back soon.”
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In addition to Alhassan (above, with Kris Boyd), defender Hanyer Mosquera is out indefinitely after sustaining a concussion and a fractured eye socket against the Revs.
Spencer didn’t provide any indication as to who would replace Alhassan or Mosquera, but it seems clear that rookie defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste, who started in place of Mosquera while the Colombian was waiting for his international transfer certificate to clear, will get the nod.
Previously injured midfielder Franck Songo’o played 30 minutes Saturday against New England after coming on for left winger Eric Alexander. Spencer commended Songo’o’s play in that game, and the Cameroonian said this week he feels healthy enough for a full 90.
Portland’s persistent injury bug – the team is also without midfielder Sal Zizzo and defenders Mamadou “Futty” Danso and David Horst – comes at a precarious time for the team. The team started off the season with a 3-1 win over the Philadelphia Union at home, but was winless in the two-game road trip that followed.
Like Portland, RSL are also coming off a disappointing 1-0 loss, falling to Chivas USA on a goal from rookie Casey Townsend.
“The West is a really good conference with a lot of good teams in it,” Spencer said. “We don’t want to fall too far behind too early in the season, and then try to play catch up the rest of the way. So I think it’s important you win your home games to be successful in this league and then get points on the road. So starting tomorrow we have a two-home-game swing and it’s important to get maximum points from both games.”
The emphasis in training this week has been starting off strong. Portland have fallen a goal behind in all three of their games, including last Saturday when New England scored just 28 seconds into the match.
“Everyone is aware of the starts we’ve had in the last couple games,” midfielder and captain Jack Jewsbury said. “We’ve said the right words, everyone has said the right thing, now it’s about going out and doing the right actions because you can only say so much.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.