PORTLAND TIMBERS v. DEPORTIVO SAPRISSA
PROVIDENCE PARK, Portland, Ore.
Oct 19, 2016 (CONCACAF Champions League)
10 pm ET (live on Facebook; tape delayed on UDN at 2 am ET)
The Portland Timbers have some ground to make up this week, and not only in the race for the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.
Going into Wednesday night's Group B finale at Providence Park, the Timbers trail Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa by one point in the standings. Only a victory will get Portland on to the knockout stage. But how much of the roster will manager Caleb Porter (above) commit to getting that job done, when the defending MLS Cup champions have one shot left -- on Sunday -- at cracking the Western Conference playoff field?
When last they met
Saprissa's 4-2 home victory on Sept. 14 gave "The Purple Monster" control of the group -- but Porter was not at all happy with how that match played out and had no problems expressing his displeasure.
He disagreed with both of the penalty kicks awarded to the Costa Rican side, and also said Saprissa should have been whistled for a foul on the sequence that led to an own goal by the Timbers' Jermaine Taylor.
Who sits and who plays?
Porter left several key players off the traveling squad when his side traveled to Costa Rica last month, as Liam Ridgewell, Darlington Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury and Alvas Powell stayed home. With just three days' rest before the Decision Day match at Vancouver, will he do the same again this time -- and if so, who plays and who gets held out?
Nagbe did make the Timbers' second Central American trip this year, driving home a free kick in the 90th minute to lift his team to a 2-1 victory over Salvadoran side CD Dragon on Sept. 27.
Saprissa won the 2008 CONCACAF Champions' Cup and are one of three Costa Rican teams to make a quarterfinal in the current CCL format, achieving that feat in 2011. They have not advanced past the quarterfinals since then, though, and failed to make the knockout stage last year.
They last reached the quarterfinals in 2014-15, losing 5-0 on aggregate to eventual champions Club América.