The Portland Timbers are hardly down and out of their Concacaf Champions League tie against Club America, but face a pretty steep task in leg two. After a 1-1 draw in Portland last week that saw the MLS side concede an away goal, the Timbers head to America's home of Estadio Azteca to book their first trip to the tournament's semifinal.
However, they head to Mexico with someone who was unavailable last week in Portland: Forward Jeremy Ebobisse.
Head coach Giovanni Savarese said the forward would be in the squad after missing the first leg with a thigh muscle strain. Ebobisse made his season debut off the bench to play 15 minutes over the weekend in the team's 4-1 loss to FC Dallas and could be crucial for a Timbers side that would certainly feel more comfortable with an away goal of their own.
"He’s an important player for us," midfielder Diego Chara said in a pre-match virtual press conference. Now to have him back is really important because he give us a different options in attack and yes, I think the team is really, really happy to have him back."
Ebobisse has 22 goals and 8 assists in 76 appearances (43 starts) in his MLS career thus far. He will be an important player for the club again this year as he gets his
The Timbers also feel prepared in their game plan ahead of the second leg.
"I think the first half we played against them in Portland, we were a little bit uncomfortable with the ball," Chara said. "We lost, too many times, the ball and give them the opportunity to control the game, but I think the second half, we did a better job of keeping the ball, trying to find different ways to create opportunities and I think we need to do that here tomorrow because we know we need to get that great result to [get to] the next round."
It is the game plan, Savarese noted, that would allow the Timbers to combat any advantages America have, both through the score and through the venue.
"The glory of [Estadio Azteca] will be only today when the players will go there, some that haven’t played, some that have," Savarese said. "Tomorrow is just another game, the last 90 of the 180 that we had to play against Club America and we’re prepared for it. We anticipate being another very competitive match."