Alpha United vs. Portland Timbers
2014-15 CONCACAF Champions League
August 19 | 8 pm ET | Guyana National Stadium
TV: Fox Soccer Plus
And so it begins for the Portland Timbers. Caleb Porter's crew enter the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time based on their first-place finish in the Western Conference last season. But it's been far from wine and roses in the Rose City in 2014, as the Timbers have found that form tough to replicate – they're currently in sixth place in the West, although only two points out of a playoff spot and slowly finding their feet after a miserable start to the season that saw them winless in their first eight. Will they be able to balance their postseason push with four CCL group-stage games down the stretch? We'll find out Tuesday night in Guyana.
- - -
FANTASTIC VOYAGE: The Timbers are making an epic road trip for their Champions League debut. After bagging a 1-1 draw in New England this past weekend, they hopped a charter flight from Boston's Logan International Airport for a 2,500-mile, two-leg flight to Georgetown. After Tuesday's match, they'll make a 4,700-mile flight back to Portland for a Sunday showdown with Seattle. Will the heavy legs affect them?
WHO ARE THESE GUYS? Porter is a scouting freak, but even he likely has faced a challenge to collect information on the five-time defending Guyanese champions, making their second-ever CCL appearance. Alpha United, nicknamed "The Hammer," fell 1-0 at home to Honduran side Olimpia in their tournament opener two weeks ago, but believe they've got a decent shot against the Timbers. "We went back to the drawing board," head coach Wayne Dover told local media. "We have worked on finishing during our sessions and the approach on Tuesday will be offensive-minded.” No doubt Porter has seen these highlights, and hopefully much more:
WHO EXACTLY TRAVELED? The Timbers will be emptying their roster during their tough three-games-in-eight-days stretch, as Porter told reporters last week that all 28 on the first-team roster would travel to New England. But he also said he'd bring 18 to Guyana and send the other 10 back to Portland. So who is available? Porter hasn't said anything, but you can draw your own conclusions based on the 18 men pictured in this Instagram post by defender Pa Modou Kah.
- - -
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
MAXIMILIANO URRUTI, PORTLAND - He's the Timbers' leading scorer thus far this season with eight goals in league play. But the Argentine is also a good bet to get serious minutes in Guyana given that he went only 30 minutes in New England on Saturday. He might be Portland's most dangerous weapon on Tuesday night.
GREGORY RICHARDSON, ALPHA UNITED - The Guyanese national-teamer is one of Alpha United's most worrisome players, along with strike partner Kithson Bain. Richardson – who had a brief cup of coffee in MLS with the Colorado Rapids in 2009 – was subpar in Alpha's opener vs. Olimpia and will be looking to show better in front of his home fans ... and the league that cast him aside.