PORTLAND, Ore. – With the way Sporting Kansas City dominated Chivas USA last weekend in a 4-0 drubbing, one would assume the Portland Timbers are looking forward to Sunday afternoon’s meeting against the Goats at JELD-WEN Field (5 p.m. ET, WATCH FREE on MLS Live).
Sporting’s attacking trio of Graham Zusi, Jacob Peterson and Claudio Bieler ran circles around Chivas’ three-man backline to the tune of 17 shots, with seven on goal. They exposed Chivas USA's lax defending out of their 3-4-3 formation. In fact, the Goats have conceded eight goals during their current four-game winless streak and 15 on the season.
Portland’s attack, similar to Kansas City’s 4-3-3 formation, has been one of the most dangerous in the league with 15 goals scored. Needless to say, Portland like how they match up – especially if Chivas stick with their 3-4-3.
Highlights: Sporting 4, Chivas USA 0
“It will essentially be man-for-man up there, and we feel good about those matchups with the guys we have up there,” Timbers fullback Michael Harrington said. “We have guys with pace, with size, and obviously the guys running the midfield as well. We feel really good about the matchup going forward.”
Portland are also coming into the game itching to score some goals. Their one goal in the past two games is their lowest output in a two-game stretch this season. Team captain Will Johnson says the midweek 1-1 draw at FC Dallas left a “sour taste in our mouth."
“If they play three in the back or if they play four in the back, our talented attackers are a handful for anybody,” Johnson said. “So when those guys are clicking, we have to find ways to get them the ball, get them the ball in dangerous spots, and let them do their thing. … I don’t know if there are specific matchups because we’re not sure who they’re going to play, and I don’t know that it matters that much. It’s about us and what we do.”
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The Timbers feature several of the league’s most dangerous attackers in forwards Darlington Nagbe, Rodney Wallace and Ryan Johnson, who leads the team with four goals. Nagbe has three tallies and an assist, while Wallace, who forced his way into the starting lineup a month into the season, has two goals and an assist.
“I think we’re hungry to score goals,” Harrington said. “We’re just excited to get at them and try to put three or four up against this team.”
Timbers head coach Caleb Porter said there are still a lot of unknowns to Chivas and what type of look they’ll bring to the Rose City. Porter believes that Chivas USA's early results, with wins over Dallas, Chicago and Vancouver, point to a quality side.
“They’re, I think, a dangerous team because they’re capable, they’ve shown that, but they’re also dangerous because they’re unpredictable,” Porter said. “They definitely play to win, and you’ve got to credit them for that. Personally, I appreciate Chivas for the way they play, they attack, they get numbers forward, they don’t look to sit back and they play to win.”
Dan Itel covers the Timbers for MLSsoccer.com.